Eye on Cheltenham – Ladbrokes list their top five liabilities for the Festival

Top bookmakers Ladbrokes list their top five liabilities for the Cheltenham Festival, as well as reporting some interesting market movers.

As equine influenza brought racing in Britain to a halt, punters were forced to find other markets to pump their cash into this week. Bookmakers Ladbrokes reported on Monday that their markets for the Cheltenham Festival saw a big increase in activity over the past five or six days, with several horses the focus of significant backing.

Despite Gordon Elliott claiming he could be out for the rest of the season, Ladbrokes were forced to cut Samcro’s price in the Stayers’ Hurdle, listing the former Ballymore winner as a 6/1 shot. Another Irish raider making waves with Ladbrokes was Min, who was clipped into 5/2 at the head of the Ryanair Chase betting.

“It has been a very busy week for Cheltenham Festival movers,” said Ladbrokes’ Nicola McGeady. “With lots shortening up across the board including Samcro and Min.”

The bookmaker was also forced to cut Give Me A Copper into 8/1 favoritism for the Ultima Handicap, with Dallas Des Pictons moving to the head of the Martin Pipe betting on a fresh price of 7/1. Neither, however, managed to crack Ladbrokes’ list of top five biggest losers at the Festival, which McGeady revealed on Monday.

“Looking at the worst results ante-post, the ones that we dread the most include Santini in the RSA, who has been favorite since the start of the season, and Paisley Park, who has been well punted since winning his trial at Cheltenham.”

Sitting third on that list is Fakir D’Oudairies, who has been heavily punted in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle market over the last couple of weeks. Wins for Champ in the Ballymore and Ok Corral in the National Hunt Challenge Cup could also see Ladbrokes take a huge hit, with the JP McManus-owned duo rounding up the bookmakers’ list of top five liabilities.

With no racing to cover in Britain last week, all eyes were on Ireland as ITV Racing screened five live races from Naas. Recent McManus recruit, Konitho was one of the best backed horses on the day, but he was upstaged by an imperious performance from stablemate Band Of Outlaws and Joseph O’Brien’s juvenile was cut into 8/1 favoritism for the Fred Winter at Cheltenham by Ladbrokes.

Earlier in the afternoon, City Island cruised to an impressive victory in the two-and-a-half-mile novice hurdle and Martin Brassil’s youngster was handed fresh quotes of 12/1 to win the Ballymore. Dounikos was the big winner on Grand National Trial day at Punchestown, but it was Josies’ Orders who made the biggest move in the Cheltenham Festival betting, coming into 5/1 with Ladbrokes for the Cross Country Chase after scoring in Sunday’s opener.