William Hill is the first major bookmaker to put up non runner no bet on the 2023 Cheltenham Festival. There is rarely value in such offers, in fact, it’s often better to wait until the day of the race where place terms will be far superior to those available now.
But two horses caught my eye in the Hills pricing: Balco Coastal, and Parmenion in the County Hurdle.
Balco Coastal left a deep impression on me last weekend when winning a novices handicap at Kempton, his second chasing outing. He was off just 133 and, in hindsight, absolutely thrown in. He cruised around on the outside all the way jumping superbly (connections believe he wants a clear view of his fences). He was clever where he had to be, confident, accurate and efficient. He had the tactical speed to do anything Nico asked of him, and the finishing speed to put the race to bed in a matter of strides.
The Henderson horse has gone up to 144 after that and has two possible festival targets: The Craft Irish Whiskey Co Plate he’s 10/1 for that, and the Turners Chase, a Grade 1 Novices Chase, for which he is 20/1. He would be very interesting off 144 in the Plate, but the trainer might want to give him another run for experience. Entry date for the Plate is 21st Feb, and for the Turners, 17th January. If Henderson was confident enough to run him in the Grade 1, then I’d be more than happy with 20/1. I suggest you back Balco Coastal for both races at the prices on offer, knowing you’ll get your money back on the one he skips.
The other that offers value, in theory, is Willie Mullins’s probable for The County Hurdle, Parmenion, who was beaten at 4/5 the other day when 3rd behind High Definition. After the race Mullins said he expected considerable improvement. Parmenion has a very similar profile race-planning wise to State Man, who won the County last year at 11/4 fav, and to Saint Roi, the 2020 County winner and fav at 11/2, both trained by Mullins.
State Man had his first run for Mullins in the same race (fell 2 out) that Parmenion was beaten in, and that too was Parmenion’s first run for the yard. Saint Roi’s stable debut was at Tramore; he too was beaten, but hacked up in the County, just as State Man did (he’s now 2nd fav for the Champion Hurdle). Parmenion belongs to Mrs Donnelly, the owner of State Man.
So, if Parmenion is good enough, he will be there on the day, and probably start fav or close to it If not, you get your money back. Parmenion is 12/1 as I write with Hills and I strongly recommend you back him.
I’ll write again this week about ante post for Cheltenham, though there is little value left, even in conventional pricing.
All the best.
Recommended: Balco Coastal at 10/1 for the Plate, and at 20/1 for The Turners.
Strongly recommended: Parmenion at 12/1 for The County Hurdle
My usual warning. Anything I put up as a tip here is for ‘fun money’ – stakes you can afford to lose almost without even thinking about it. There’s just as much fun to be had with small stakes.