Saturday 17 March 2018

Champion four worth investing in to retain Cheltenham crowns

THE odds imply a flight of fancy, but the 150/1 on offer that all four champions retain their Cheltenham crowns is worth a sporting investment.

Big Buck's, Big Zeb, Binocular and Imperial Commander must all win for the bet to come off. Of the four, Big Buck's is the only odds-on shot, yet he looks to have the World Hurdle at his mercy, assuming he gets there safely. He is generally 4/7.

Big Zeb's odds will probably be shorter come this evening as he should win the Tied Cottage at Punchestown. Master Minded's all-out victory over Somersby at Ascot saw his own odds drift and he is less likely than Big Zeb to run to form in March.

Binocular gave an assured display in the belated Christmas Hurdle and basically looks primed to run a big race in the Champion Hurdle off what should be the searching gallop he needs.

Imperial Commander is the longest-priced contender of the four but his chance is obvious. Denman and Kauto Star are difficult to make a strong case for at this stage, while Long Run still has a little to prove with regard to Cheltenham and his stamina.

All four have been campaigned sparingly to ensure that they are given the maximum chance of winning again. An accumulator placed at the best odds available with the bookmakers would produce a price appreciably shorter than 150/1 and the four horses' odds are likely to contract between now and March.

Obviously, something will probably go wrong, but this is a cracking little bet to keep you interested in the big four races outside of bets you might already have placed. Given the superiority of Big Buck's, one could argue that the bet is a treble masquerading as an accumulator and the price will surely be cut soon.


All four Cheltenham champion race winners to retain crowns, 0.5pt at 150/1 (Ladbrokes)

MONAGHAN are in line for a struggle in Division 1 of the National Football League and the 10/3 on offer about them finishing last appeals. The Farney men face Galway at home next Sunday -- a game of obvious significance to the proposed bet, given that the Tribesmen are expected to finish in the bottom half. Monaghan will be under-strength for that game and have lost some key men from previous campaigns.

It remains to be revealed how Eamonn McEneaney will get on with his new panel, starved as it is of some of the best players that his predecessor Seamus McEnaney had to work with. Even so, Monaghan only amassed four league points last year under Banty and prospects look glummer 12 months on.


Monaghan to finish last in Division 1, 1pt at 10/3 (Ladbrokes)

MANCHESTER UNITED are probably too short at 3/4 to win the Premier League on Betfair. The price reflects that they are five points clear of Arsenal and 10 beyond Chelsea, but 15 rounds of matches remain unsolved.

United still must face Chelsea twice, Manchester City at home and both Arsenal and Liverpool on the road. They are far from bullet-proof as evidenced by their victory over Blackpool: it advertised their will to win but also their limitations.

In midfield, Alex Ferguson's side are there for the taking, as is the case with any team that features Michael Carrick. Remarkably, that Blackpool triumph was only their third away win in the league all season.

Defensively excellent, United nonetheless are vulnerable leaders and much can change between now and May 22. Arsenal, Chelsea and to a lesser extent City are all very much in the race and it should be recalled that Chelsea were deemed so superior earlier in the campaign that they were matched outright at 4/9 on Betfair.


Lay Manchester United to win Premier League, 2pts at 1.75 (1.5pt liability, Betfair)


Profit/loss to €10 stake: €-20.70

Still running: €140

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