The bookmakers suffered a bad start to this year’s Cheltenham Festival, despite the early failure of Getabird and a surprisingly off-colour showing from the much-vaunted Apples Jade.
Ridden by Ruby Walsh, Getabird was nowhere to be seen in the closing stages of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, as Summerville Boy came from behind to take victory from Kalashnikov.
Stephen Harris, the racing guru at bettingexpert, commented: “Bookmakers got off to a horrific losing start on Day 1 of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, despite getting 15/8f Getabird beaten in the opening Supreme Novice Hurdle.
“The winner Summerville Boy (backed from 12/1 into 9/1 in the morning) was very popular each-way off course, while runner-up Kalashnikov was the other one to attract strong cash.”
An impressive win for the Willie Mullins-trained Footpad, who attracted several five figure bets at the course to start at 5/6, put the bookmakers further behind before a gamble on Coo Star Sivola, backed from 13/2 into 5/1, compounded matters in the handicap chase at 2:50.
It was then left to short-price favourite Buveur D’Air (SP 4/6), expertly marshalled by Barry Geraghty, to beat Melon to claim the Unibet Champion Hurdle, before the bookmakers were spared, or as the ITV commentary team put it “given partial respite” by Apples Jade coming in third behind Benie Des Dieux and Midnight Tour.
Harris concluded: “Buveur D’Air proved easy to back on-course before the Champion Hurdle, drifting out to 8/11 in places, before scrambling home from Melon (and completing leg two in nearly every accumulator in the land).
“The fate of the punters treble rested with the prolific mare Apples Jade, hammered down to 1/2f from 4/6 as the offices moved into to try and compress down the SP. Luckily for the layers and the industry, she proved very flat on the day, one paced in third up the hill in a driving three-way finish.”
Watch the video below for Harris’ expert analysis and tips for day two at Cheltenham: