With only one more day to go until Jump racing’s biggest event of the year, SBC has continued the Countdown to Cheltenham by quizzing Nicola McGeady, Head of PR at Ladbrokes.
She outlined the top runners and riders to keep a close eye on, and explained why punters can expect an even bigger range of competing promotional offers.
SBC: Three of the shortest-priced favourites of the week have been lined up to race on the Wednesday of Cheltenham Festival – is this a worry for Ladbrokes? and how does Ladbrokes plan to mitigate the risk of a ‘wednesday wipeout’?
Nicola McGeady: When you get three or four ‘bankers’ lining up on the same day, that will inevitably lead to increased multiple risk for the bookmakers. In terms of mitigating that risk, we’ll monitor the liabilities on the day – it’s relatively unlikely that we would look to lay off.
SBC: Data has suggested that this year’s Cheltenham Festival has attracted – on average – 40% more ante-post punting in comparison to last year. Why do you think this is?
Nicola McGeady: A few of the championship races are a lot more open this year – the Champion Chase for example is often a one sided affair which will limit Ante Post interest, whereas this year we have three big contenders in Defi Du Seuil, Chacun Pour Soi and Altior and that has resulted in increased betting activity.
SBC: The Gold Cup hasn’t been defended since 2004, what are the chances of current joint favourite Al Boum Photo doing it for Willie Mullins this year?
Nicola McGeady: He wouldn’t have struck you as an obvious one to retain his title when he won it last year, but as this season has progressed his chances have got better and better as other candidates have fallen by the wayside or disappointed. He’s still only 8 so there’s a chance we still haven’t seen the best of him and I suspect whatever beats him will win the race.
SBC: What role will request-a-bet and promotional offers play in engaging punters with this year’s festival?
Nicola McGeady: Cheltenham is always a huge battle ground when it comes to the firms competing on promotional offers and there is nothing to suggest that won’t be the case again this year. In terms of Request-a-bets and side markets, I think you’ll see an even bigger range this year – we have already seen a lot of interest in our ‘Which horse will win by the Biggest distance at the Festival?’ market, where Tiger Roll is favourite at 14-1.
SBC: And finally, are there any runners that SBC readers should be keeping an eye on?
Nicola McGeady: It might be that you won’t have to wait that long for a banker to oblige – as Shiskin (Supreme Novices’ Hurdle) looks to have an excellent chance in the opener – he has bolted up on his last two starts and looks as though he could have even more in the locker.