IN a guest post. racing expert ANTONY MICHAEL has been taking a look at next year’s ante-post markets and has picked out the top five unmissable ante-post bets for 2016…
1 – Lumiere to win the 1,000 Guineas at 9/1 with Bet365
The dogs were barking loudly for a two-year-old grey filly by the name of Lumiere well before her debut at Newmarket’s July meeting and she duly rewarded her army of supporters on the day with a scintillating victory.
The daughter of Shamardal sparkled brightly at HQ, as she jumped out and made all under pilot William Buick, quickening clear of her rivals in the closing stages to score by an eased down six lengths. Lumiere was much hyped and expected by many to win the Lowther Stakes at York’s Ebor Festival in August but bumped into a more experienced rival in the shape of Group 3 winner Besharah, who swept past her to score by two lengths.
The Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum-owned filly showed her inexperience that day but stuck to the task like a smart horse, so it was no surprise to see her reverse the form with Besharah to land the valuable Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket in September, making virtually all to beat a high-class field.
Following the race, her trainer couldn’t hide his excitement, with the Scotsman already very bullish about her three-year-old campaign.
Johnston said: “I’m very hopeful she’ll get a mile next year. I told someone I didn’t know about the Cheveley Park but I’m sure she’ll win the Guineas. I just hope I’m right.”
Lumiere was trading as high as 25/1 earlier in the season for next year’s 1,000 Guineas but there’s enough juicy value left in the 9/1 currently available with Bet365 to get involved, as I strongly fancy her to follow in the hoof-prints of Mark Johnston’s Attraction who won the fillies’ Classic in 2004.
2 – Don Poli to win the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival at 8/1 with William Hill
Trainer Willie Mullins has never won the Cheltenham showpiece but he is responsible for three of the top five in the ante-post betting for next year’s renewal, and will surely never have a better assembled team to break his duck.
However, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Don Poli makes more appeal for the Gold Cup than classy chaser and current market leader Vautour. The six-year-old is already a dual Cheltenham Festival winner, having won the Martin Pipe in 2014 and was untouchable in the RSA Chase in his novice season. Don Poli signed off the campaign with an abysmal showing at Punchestown but can be forgiven that run as it came just 48 days removed from his Cheltenham exploits.
He has the perfect make-up of a Gold Cup winner, stamina in bundles, and will relentlessly gallop up the hill when many of his rivals will be toiling.
3 – Faugheen to remain unbeaten in the 2015/16 season at 13/8 with Sky Bet
Faugheen won his four races last term by a combined distance of over 20 lengths, starting his campaign in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot in November, winning the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton without coming off the bridle and rounded off another faultless season with victories in the Champion Hurdles at Cheltenham and Punchestown.
The Champion Hurdle will be Faugheen’s target in 2016, and although the likes of Peace And Co were among an exciting bunch of juvenile hurdlers last year, none appear in his league.
The unbeaten seven-year-old looks a hurdler of a lifetime and I would be very surprised if anything managed to give him a race, let alone beat him.
4 – Order of St George to win the Ascot Gold Cup at 5/1 with William Hill
Irish handler Aidan O’Brien is the leading winning trainer of the Ascot Gold Cup with six previous victories, and this season’s Irish St Leger winner Order of St George can make it a magic seven in 2016.
The Galileo colt was breathtakingly impressive when romping to an eleven-length victory in the Irish Classic in September, beating the likes of the Geoffrey Freer Stakes winner Agent Murphy with immense ease.
Order of St George has all the hallmarks of an Ascot Gold Cup horse, and I very much look forward to 2016 with him.
5 – Townshend to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival at 25/1 with Paddy Power
A speculative selection at a big price for the curtain-raiser at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival is Townshend. He was snapped up to race for Willie Mullins for €170,000 a month after winning a big field four-year-old contest at Auteuil on debut. He is a horse that has a high reputation and will be trading much shorter than current odds once he’s made his debut.
Antony is writer for CheltenhamFestival.net, a site dedicated to the most exciting meeting in the world – the Cheltenham Festival.