Honeysuckle is at the heart of Cheltenham Festival accumulators, say bookmakers, with Betfred describing liabilities on a double on the Champion Hurdle favourite and Champion Chase market leader Shishkin as a “bit of a headache”.
A four-timer involving that pair and Facile Vega in the Champion Bumper and Allaho in the Ryanair Chase, all of whom are odds-on, was described by the firm as “easily the most popular multiple for the week”.
With just a week to go before the start of the Cheltenham Festival the major betting firms are reporting a spread of short-priced horses that feature in the most popular multiple bets.
All are in agreement that six-day confirmations and 48-hour declarations will bring a great deal more clarity, but the pivotal horse on day one is Honeysuckle, who is no bigger than 4-7 to repeat last season’s Unibet Champion Hurdle success for Rachael Blackmore and Henry de Bromhead.
Ladbrokes describe the 6-4 double of Honeysuckle and Allaho as “very popular” and highlight Tiger Roll as another who is cropping up in plenty of multiples ahead of his attempt at a historic sixth festival success in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase.
“It’s clear to see punters are very much leaning towards the Irish camp,” said Ladbrokes’ Nicola McGeady. “The top five most popular horses in accumulators have been Honeysuckle, Allaho, Tiger Roll, Facile Vega and Shishkin.”
Michael Shinners of Sky Bet said the biggest weight of money for multiples is yet to be seen as the final destination of star novices such as Galopin Des Champs and Sir Gerhard remain to be determined.
Where Sir Gerhard runs could have a significant bearing for Sky Bet’s customers and traders as most of their multiple business has been centred on the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, which they sponsor.
“Honeysuckle will be very popular but there are all these questions surrounding horses like Galopin Des Champs and Sir Gerhard and that will have a knock-on effect for multiple punters,” said Shinners.
“If Sir Gerhard runs in the Ballymore, that makes Constitution Hill more popular in the Supreme, and the same is true if Galopin Des Champs swerves Bob Olinger.”
The injury-enforced absence of Ferny Hollow has put paid to plenty of ante-post multiples and Shinners said the most popular combination still standing requires Sir Gerhard to run in the opening race of the festival.
“The biggest amount we would pay out at the moment would be on Shishkin, Sir Gerhard and Honeysuckle, but it’s Sir Gerhard for the Supreme, not the Ballymore,” said Shinners.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed Ryanair will sponsor the Grade 2 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle on day three of the Cheltenham Festival. The airline has sponsored the Ryanair Chase, which is run on the same day, since 2006.
Bus strike called off
One welcome piece of news for racegoers heading for the Cheltenham Festival is that bus company Stagecoach West and the union Unite have reached agreement in a dispute over pay.
That means the planned month-long strike due to start this Thursday has been called off, after members voted to accept an improved offer from the company.
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