For the last few seasons, there has been a welcome addition to the Cheltenham Festival ante-post markets – the ‘to win any race’ market that a handful of firms are offering from an early stage.
In essence, it is usually the domain of the higher profile horse that many punters want to be with, but are not too sure which race said horse may pitch up in the following March, and as such the prices offered are usually measly. You certainly can’t crab the bookies for that, as invariably such a horse will be very cramped odds come the day.
However, with more and more horses being offered up in this respect, every now and again a crumb of value can be grabbed. That is certainly the case with Saturday’s ready Cheltenham novice chase winner Happygolucky, who is 25/1 with William Hill in their ‘to win any race’ market.
The suggestion is to back Happygolucky each-way at these odds, and in doing so be aware that whatever race he may run in at the Cheltenham Festival next March, it will be ⅕ the odds for 3 places – even if he were to run in a big field handicap.
Back Happygolucky to win any race at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival with William Hill!
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Subsequent to him winning yesterday, his trainer Kim Bailey was very keen to come back in March, but he also was completely in the dark as to which race. Maybe it is this ambivalence that has meant he has been disregarded by the layers, but his performance demands much greater respect I believe.
Happygolucky is available at 50/1 for the RSA and 33/1 for the National Hunt Chase, and if you are personally adamant of one particular race, then feel free to take one of those prices, but I would much prefer to take the 25/1 in the ‘to win any race’ market, as I think he could run in any one of 6 races!00
Top of the list for many would be the National Hunt Chase, and the way he shaped yesterday suggested he could get that trip, and it is usually a less competitive race. But the pace he showed was quite notable, as compared with the later 3m2f handicap chase won by Storm Control (rated 137 and carrying 17lbs less than Happygolucky), he was significantly ahead on time at every stage – and notably so as the pace increased halfway on the second circuit.
That he could up the tempo later on in the race, given he had been keen early on, despite running much faster than a very solid staying handicap chaser, marks Happygolucky down as a horse with some engine. Also, it is worth noting that Happygolucky was only a couple of seconds slower on the final circuit than the winner of the Peterborough Chase, Mister Fisher, who is a genuinely speedy potential Grade 1 winner at 2m4f.
Happygolucky was a mightily impressive winner of his chase debut at Stratford, and then just went down to a much speedier type who was more suited to Fakenham next time. Kim Bailey has a very nice prospect on his hands, and while the Marsh Novices’ Chase and the RSA Chase look stiff tasks at this stage with the likes of Envoi Allen and Monkfish on the scene, he wouldn’t be out of place in either. He has a nice mix of speed and stamina, and a better race will suit him even more.
It is interesting to note that Kim Bailey ran Vinndication in the Ultima Handicap Chase from a handicap mark of 159, and while he was a previous Grade 2 novice chase winner, he wasn’t placed in two Grade 2 novice hurdles like Happygolucky. I have every confidence that Happygolucky could win the right Graded novice chase.
So, while he was rated 140 before yesterday, on Tuesday he will be re-assessed and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him raised to 145+, but he could still have some scope off that mark. On this, the Ultima Handicap Chase or the Kim Muir Handicap Chase could also come into the reckoning come March.
Basically, I have no idea where Happygolucky should run at the Cheltenham Festival, but I do know he is a very high-quality horse, who has slipped under the radar somewhat, and so 25/1 each-way with William Hill in the ‘to win any race’ market represents a lovely ante-post bet. As wherever he does run, he will surely be much shorter, and Kim Bailey will get it right I’m sure – he did with Imperial Aura last season.