Cheltenham ante-post betting picks: Weekend evaluation – January 22-23
A round-up of the latest Cheltenham Festival ante-post odds after some standout performances at Ascot, Lingfield and Navan over the weekend
Shishkin and Energumene produced the race of the season so far at Ascot on Saturday afternoon.
The star duo greater than lived up to their billing with a frantic and fast-paced battle that was in the steadiness all the way in which up to the ultimate 50 yards.
Here’s our take a glance at the weekend’s racing with some possible ante-post considerations for the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Cheltenham ante-post betting picks
Odds correct at time of publishing and may be subject to vary.
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Shishkin shines in Ascot duel to remember
It’s not typically the beaten connections of a horse in a Grade 1 contest are left smiling, however even Willie Mullins nonetheless appeared to have a twinkle in his eye after seeing rallying Shishkin deny Energumene in a thrilling Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday.
The pair had been unbeaten chasers going to Ascot and while it’s solely Nicky Henderson’s cost that may lay that declare now, Energumene misplaced precious little in defeat.
He was courageous and bold in front, putting pressure on Shishkin that just about advised at the sixth fence when Nico de Boinville’s mount kissed the turf on landing.
Entering the home straight it briefly appeared as if the writing was about to go on the wall for Shishkin, but he’s a champion and his rally up the run-in was one thing to behold, particularly as his rival pinged the final obstacle to lead by two lengths.
Shishkin completed quickest and had a length to spare passing the road after a very titanic battle. He’s now 8/15 to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase in March.
However, ENERGUMENE might be the higher worth at 3/1. This was his toughest problem and he only simply failed it, if fail is indeed the proper word. Owner Tony Bloom will be hopeful his cost can only improve after such a battle.
It looks as if Shishkin vs. Energumene could turn into a correct rivalry and given the lack of margin for error for the pair going full tilt over two miles, the largest shock can be if it turns right into a one-sided affair. Energumene misplaced the battle at Ascot, however the struggle with Shishkin has solely simply begun.
Selection: Energumene to win Queen Mother Champion Chase @
Skelton’s Cottage has Albert Bartlett claims
Dan and Harry Skelton had been a group in form over the weekend. The brothers bagged a Saturday afternoon Ascot treble and then saw BALLYGRIFINCOTTAGE oblige in the Winter Million Novices’ Hurdle over 2m 7f at Lingfield on Sunday.
Ballygrifincottage was a winner of three Irish point-to-points in May 2021 before moving to the Skelton staff.
He’s clearly one they suppose loads of, given he was sent into a Cheltenham Grade 2 in December on his first begin under guidelines, not the sort of move we commonly associate with Dan Skelton’s horses.
He finished third in that Albert Bartlett Trial over three miles, behind Blazing Khal and Gelino Bello – two rock-solid markers.
The latter has since run a creditable fourth within the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton for Paul Nicholls, however it’s the fate of Charles Byrnes’ winner that can perhaps spark hope for Ballygrifincottage in the Albert Bartlett itself in March.
Blazing Khal was clear ante-post favorite for the race on March 18, just for his trainer to announce on Friday he had suffered a minor setback and can now miss it, with Punchestown a month later his revised target.
Ballygrifincottage was usurped within the betting at Lingfield by one other Irish contender, Gavin Cromwell’s Fameaftertheglory, but on the track he was too good for that rival.
Instead, it was Warren Greatrex’s High Stakes that led him going to the last flight, however Ballygrifincottage eased by on the run to the line and appeared to do so a shade cosily.
The Albert Bartlett looks an excellent set-up for him given he’s run the course and distance nicely already, and if the ground is delicate come the Friday, likelihood is the Skelton runner won’t be something near a 25/1 poke.
Selection: Ballygrifincottage to win the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle @
Tiger Roll pleases Elliott at Navan
TIGER ROLL could now be a 12-year-old, however it might be churlish to dismiss his possibilities of landing a sixth win at the Cheltenham Festival come March.
He has already received the Cross Country Chase three times and, having misplaced the crown in 2020, he roared back to kind final March when thrashing Easysland by 18 lengths.
The feeling persists that everything he has accomplished since is about getting him back to the Cotswolds on March 16 for another go at this race.
He finished well beaten over hurdles at Navan on Saturday, where he was a 28/1 chance, however trainer Gordon Elliott was quite glad with the run.
“I’m delighted with that,” mentioned the handler. “That will actually help get him match and I appreciated what I saw from him leaving the again straight.
“Cheltenham is and always has been the plan. I knew he would get tired and, to be completely sincere, I did not suppose the ground was going to be as dangerous because it was. Overall I was delighted with him and that is another step on the street back to Cheltenham.”
Newly acquired JP McManus buy Prengarde has assumed favouritism for the Cross Country contest but make no mistake, relieving Tiger Roll of his crown in what will be his last Cheltenham outing won’t be easy.
Selection: Tiger Roll to win the Cross Country Chase @
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