So what are your bankers of the week at the Cheltenham Festival?
James Watson takes a look at the four horses which are taking all the money at the bookies. Backing them all pays out around 10/1.
Champion Festival Banker – Honeysuckle at 4/7 (Champion Hurdle)
The first of my Cheltenham Bankers will come on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival in HONEYSUCKLE. Need I give any more of an explanation? A stunning fourteen from fourteen with nine of them being Grade One’s.
She is a remarkable mare who has been faultless so far this season following in the footsteps of previous seasons with similar campaigns. She won her third Hattons Grace to kickstart her season and soon followed that up with a third Irish Champion Hurdle.
Her jockey Rachael Blackmore knows her inside out and although the mare does have a few quirks Rachael irons them out fairly quickly. This year’s Champion hurdle looks to be the hottest she’s contested, however her class and ability to win should see her become a two time winner of the Champion Hurdle.
Cheltenham Festival Banker – Shishkin at 4/5 (Champion Chase)
Having just spoke about the Irish Banker of the week I will now move onto the English Banker of the week for many.
On the Wednesday of the festival it sees the appearance of SHISHKIN . The Nicky Henderson trained gelding looks to follow in the footsteps of some of the greats that have come from Seven Barrows in winning this race.
After producing arguably one of the greatest races I’ve ever seen in my lifetime at Ascot in the Clarence House last time he surely is banker material.
Having jumped to the left throughout and a slight peck on landing at one in the back straight it looked unlikely for a while as Energumene piled on the pressure.
As Nico De Boinville asked Shishkin for more he found it in bucket loads to run down Energumene late on.
He has been a short priced favourite for this race since his victory in the Arkle last year so connections will be disappointed if he isn’t winning this.
Champion Banker Banker – Facile Vega at 10/11 (Bumper)
The Champion Bumper is a race that has been hotly contested by the Irish for many years now and they look to have a stronghold on the race with FACILE VEGA. When you mum is Quevega you are always going to have a reputation of being quite good.
The Willie Mullins trained five year old has been unbelievably professional for such little experience and it showed winning the Grade Two at Leopardstown last time.
He cruised into the race and looked effortless turning for home and when Patrick Mullins asked him to go he took off like a rocket launcher.
I think this fella could be pretty special and I can’t wait to see him emulate his mother in becoming a multiple time Cheltenham festival winner.
Cheltenham Banker – Allaho at 4/6 (Ryanair Chase)
My last Cheltenham banker comes in the Ryanair in which ALLAHO looks to win back to back renewals in the race. He was devastatingly impressive in winning this last year and has done nothing wrong this year to show he won’t do it again .
He won a hotly contested John Durkan which saw the likes of the King George winner in behind, Envoi Allen and Ascot Chase winner Fakir D’Oudairies.
It wasn’t easy for him with his stable companion Asterion Forlonge travelling the better for a long way before falling but ALLAHO carried on galloping and won nicely in the end.
He made a perfect round of jumping last time out in a smaller field which will put him bang on to win this race for the second time.