Stan Hey: 6-5 Against

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The Independent Online

It's here – the week of the year that punters most cherish. Indeed, it is a measure of the Cheltenham Festival's greatness that once it's over your heart immediately yearns for the next one. But it's also about fun, too, and camaraderie and the bookies' fear that punters will be queueing for payouts.

They see the four big races being at the mercy of short-priced favourites. Binocular is 6-4 for the Champion Hurdle; Master Minded odds-on (1-3) for the Champion Chase; while Kasbah Bliss (5-4) bosses the World Hurdle and Kauto Star (15-8) heads the Gold Cup. I think the bookies are right about Master Minded and Kasbah Bliss.

Betting each-way, on the Tote, is advised, though best bookies' prices are shown. On the first day I like Go Native (10-1, Paddy Power) in the Supreme Novices Hurdle; Tartak (16-1 generally) in the Arkle; we did Possol last week for the William Hill; Ashkazar (22-1 Hills) can be placed in the Champion Hurdle; Quevega takes the David Nicholson (5-2).

Day two suggestions include Mikael D'Haguenet (5-1) in the Ballymore Hurdle; Lodge Lane (22-1 Hills) in the RSA; and Synchronised (20-1 Ladbrokes) in the Coral Cup. Tidal Bay (7-1 Ladbrokes) wins the Ryanair Chase on Thursday. Old pal Numide can take the County Hurdle (10-1) on Friday, while Albertas Run (18-1) and Barbers Shop (16-1) may get into the money in the Gold Cup as form and history are against Denman and Kauto Star.

*Our extra-time/penalties strategy paid off in the Carling Cup with a small stakes win at 12-1. More significantly, Geoff Ogilvy's 20-1 victory in the WGC Match Play gave us £100 of "walking about" money for Cheltenham.

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