Trainer Nick Gifford has revealed that one of the favorites for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival will not be given another run-out prior to the festival. Five-year-old Didtheyleaveuoutto, owned by J.P. McManus, stormed clear of a listed field at Ascot last month. He also showed his immense potential by winning on his debut on the all-weather at Lingfield in November.
At present, Didtheyleaveuoutto is the second favorite for the Champion Bumper at 7/1, having already shortened in price from his 8/1 early price. Holographic is the current bookies favorite at 6/1. Gifford believes his charge has already demonstrated more than enough to suggest that he will be in contention, providing the ground at Cheltenham is suitable.
“He’s going to go straight to Cheltenham. Barry [Geraghty] said at the time [at Ascot], we didn’t need to run him again because he’s so professional,” said Gifford. “He’s a good ground horse, so there’s no point dragging him through the mud at this time of year. We’ll freshen him up and go straight there.”
This week saw entries also made for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with a classy field anticipated for the headline race of the four-day festival. The 2017 Gold Cup winner, Sizing John, is bidding to defend his crown, having entered in the race alongside other hopefuls, such as Native River and Djakadam; the latter will be looking to prevail in the Gold Cup at his fourth attempt. The early market leader in the Gold Cup betting is Might Bite, who currently sits as the 7/2 favorite, following his impressive score in the King George VI Chase held on Boxing Day.
Almost half of the 38 entries for the Gold Cup are from Ireland, with 18 Irish entrants bidding to feature on Friday, March 16th. Aside from Sizing John, another well-fancied Irish hopeful is Coney Island, who was a recent winner at Ascot. His trainer, Eddie Harty has spoken in glowing terms of Coney Island’s performance at Ascot and has entered the Ryanair Chase as well as the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The Cheltenham Festival is undoubtedly one of the biggest events on the sporting calendar in the opening quarter of the year alongside the Australian Open. This year, the Aussie Open will be without British number-one Andy Murray, who underwent surgery on a long-term hip problem that’s kept him sidelined since last summer. The Scotsman had been hoping to avoid surgery but went under the knife earlier this month with the intention of returning to action in time for the grass court season and Wimbledon.
Murray’s absence will open the door to some of 2018’s promising stars on the men’s tennis scene, with the latest tennis betting odds pricing the likes of Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem at interesting odds of 10/1 and 20/1, respectively, both of whom have valid each-way claims.
The betting is also wide open in the Cheltenham Festival after a surprising holiday period of racing, which saw many Cheltenham hopefuls bomb out. Sizing John failed to win at Leopardstown, which certainly set the cat among the pigeons. Nevertheless, a lot can change between now and March, and it would take a bold trader to begin laying the likes of Sizing John at any price.