Cheltenham Festival 2016 betting: Douvan looks too good in the Arkle but Sizing John can get the better of Vaniteux

 
Bill Esdaile
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Cheltenham Festival - Champion Day
Although Sizing John, pictured here in the red cap, couldn’t beat Douvan last year, he can run well again (Source: Getty)

Bookmakers dodged one almighty bullet 12 months ago when Annie Power fell at the last in the Mares’ Hurdle.

But one year on they face another potential monster pay-out if the four Willie Mullins-Susannah Ricci horses find their way to the winners’ enclosure on Tuesday.

Without doubt, of the opening day’s four hot-pots, Douvan is the very hottest in the Racing Post Arkle (2.10pm).

He was a quite brilliant winner of the Supreme Novices’ last year and has looked every bit as good, if not better, over fences.

Barring a fall, he looks unbeatable, but the problem is he’s a best-priced 2/5 with Betway.

Spread bettors could buy him on Sporting Index’s win index, but I think a better bet is to oppose Vaniteux with SIZING JOHN in a match bet.

Vaniteux is two from three over fences, although he has failed to win in five starts at Cheltenham over hurdles.

I’m just not convinced he’s top class and I expect Sizing John, third to Douvan in the Supreme, to have his measure.

Sporting Index reckon Vaniteux will beat Sizing John by between 2-3.5 lengths, so I’m definitely a seller at 2. The maximum winning distance for the purpose of this market is 15 lengths.

There are two races at the Festival for amateur jockeys and the first is this afternoon's National Hunt Chase (4.50pm).

This is another race on the opening day where Jonjo O'Neill has an excellent record, winning it five times between 1995 and 2007.

Minella Rocco could be the one to give him a sixth success following his eye catching run in the Reynoldstown at Ascot last month.

Top amateur Derek O'Connor is in the saddle, which is a big plus, but my concern is that the horse has shown absolutely nothing in two starts at Cheltenham this season. He also isn't the best jumper.

Gordon Elliott won his second 'four-miler' 12 months ago with Cause Of Causes and he has booked the same jockey, Jamie Codd, to partner NOBLE ENDEAVOUR, who I think will take all the beating.

The seven-year-old ran a cracker in the Martin Pipe Hurdle last year when he was just defeated by Killultagh Vic.

That showed he can handle Cheltenham and, although he's been solid if unspectacular so far this season, he ran well at Navan last time and looks a decent bet at 6/1 with Paddy Power.

Today’s finale, the Close Brothers Handicap (5.30pm), is hugely competitive but Warren Greatrex’s Aloomomo must have a great chance of landing his fourth chase win this term.

He is an excellent jumper and is probably still well-handicapped, yet he’s short enough at 11/2 with Betway.

DOUBLE SHUFFLE looks to have been laid out for this and Tom George’s six-year-old is worth supporting at around 14/1.

He was thrown in at the deep end in two starts at Cheltenham this season against much better opposition than he will face today.

Unsurprisingly, he didn’t win either of those but he did well to get off the mark at Ludlow last time and I’m sure this has been the plan.

He looks a solid each-way bet in a very tough race.

Pointers

Sell Vaniteux against Sizing John in match bet, 2.10pm Cheltenham

Noble Endeavour e/w, 4.50pm Cheltenham

Double Shuffle e/w, 5.30pm Cheltenham

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