Aaron graduated with a journalism degree at the University of Sunderland in 2016 before embarking on a fresh challenge at the Racing Post to combine the skills he had been taught with his passion for football and betting. Although a loyal Northampton Town supporter, Aaron closely follows the action across all of Europe’s elite divisions.
The weights for the handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival were released last Wednesday as the greatest National Hunt meeting of the year looms large.
With the tension building for the four-day racing extravaganza and nine of the week’s 28 races being handicaps, we have picked out four each-way fancies in which form a lucky 15.
The better-rated horses in a handicap are given more weight to carry in comparison to those with less ability, which in theory ensures a more even race where every horse involved should have its chance.
However, some horses improve while others decline making some better treated under their weight, which is why handicaps can be such an exciting puzzle for punters to solve.
With the fields yet to be confirmed, it is important bettors use firms which are offering non-runner money back. One of the bookies offering NRNB is bet365, where new customers can sign up below to receive up to £30 in free bets to use on Cheltenham Festival!
£0.10 stake (£3 total) returns £1,160 for our eachway Lucky 15
Oscar Elite in the Ultima Handicap Chase (Tuesday, 14:50) – 10/1 with bet365 (NRNB)
Time and time again horses that have run well at one Festival continue to blossom on their return to Cheltenham and there is a lot to like about the chances of Oscar Elite in Tuesday’s Ultima Handicap Chase.
Third in this race last year off just a 1Ib lower mark, Oscar Elite bounced back to form with a bang as he won his preparation race in the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot.
That may have only been a three-runner event but he was tackling two in-form rivals and couldn’t have won any easier as he put a series of bad efforts behind him to win going away by seven-and-a-half lengths.
Oscar Elite may have a patchy profile but he consistently runs well at this meeting as he was also placed at the Festival in 2021 when finishing second to Vanillier in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
Trainer Joe Tizzard insists he is a proper spring horse. The eight-year-old was beaten only three lengths by last year’s winner Corach Rambler yet finds himself 5Ib better off with that rival so looks poised for another big run in the Cotswolds.
Byker in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Tuesday, 16:50) – 13/2 with bet365 (NRNB)
The Irish juvenile hurdlers look a cut above what has been produced in Britain so far and, even accounting for the fact that the British handicapper has realised that, it should pay to focus on those crossing the Irish Sea.
This juvenile handicap hurdle has gone the way of Ireland in each of the last five years and the trend could continue with Charles Byrnes’ charge Byker an interesting candidate.
Byker finished third on his third and most recent start in a novice hurdle at Naas and was behind Sir Allen and Morning Soldier, who are likely to reoppose, in that contest.
However, he was doing all his best work at the finish and shaped like a bigger field, which will allow him to settle better, would be more to his liking. There should be plenty more to come off what doesn’t look too harsh a mark of 128.
Formerly with Richard Hannon on the flat and rated 76, Byker should have more in his locker over timber and the drying ground may bring about significant improvement for what are shrewd connections.
An Tailliur in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Thursday, 14:10) – 12/1 with bet365 (NRNB)
Charles Byrnes’ Shoot First is likely to be all the rage for the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle on Thursday after his course-and-distance success in an October qualifier, but it’s the third horse home that day, An Tailliur, that may have been underestimated.
Jonjo O’Neill’s charge was a two-and-three-quarter-length third to Shoot First, with Gary Moore’s Botox Has splitting those rivals, but An Tailliur was staying on stoutly up the hill.
Even so, An Tailliur is now 7Ib better off with Shoot First as well as 6Ib better off with Botox Has, while he is only seven years of age so there is clearly promise for a lot more to come.
O’Neill has given An Tailliur a break since that effort and his last three runs after 100 days or more off the track have yielded two wins and a third, suggesting he goes at his best when fresh.
Although versatile groundwise, the drier it is the better for An Tailliur, who should get plenty of cover and should be coming home strongly.
Imagine in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (Friday, 17:30) – 6/1 with bet365 (NRNB)
There tends to be an Irish handicap blot in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle with Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs and Turners Novices’ Chase chance Banbridge winning the last two renewals.
That may be the case again with Willie Mullins’ Spanish Harlem the current favourite, but at a slightly bigger price Gordon Elliott’s Imagine makes more appeal.
Imagine is set to carry 4Ib more than Spanish Harlem but he finished nearly four lengths ahead of that rival on heavy ground at Gowran in November. Making the running then in a small field evidently wouldn’t have suited.
Elliott’s five-year-old built on that when chasing home Hunters Yarn, who will be either a Supreme Novices contender or likely County Hurdle favourite, on better ground at Navan and his trainer feels he is one of his strongest handicap chances of the week.
Elliott won this race in 2017 and 2018 so knows how to target this contest and on breeding and running style there is every chance this step up an extended 2m4f is going to eke out the necessary improvement.
What is a Lucky 15 bet?
A Lucky 15 is a popular bet in the world of horse racing, largely because it can generate huge returns from a relatively small stake.
As the name suggests, a Lucky 15 consists of 15 separate bets across four selections, although you can also back them each way to make a total of 30 separate bets. These bets are:
- Four singles
- Six doubles
- Four trebles
- One four-fold
This means that even if only a couple of your selections land you’re likely to make a profit, depending on the odds of your winning legs, and a single winner still guarantees you some return.
For example, if you back four horses at 2/1 with a £1 stake on each bet (£15 total stake) you would win £265.5 if all four selections win, but even if only two of them win you would still get your stake back in winnings.
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