14:05 Cheltenham – Outsider Ciceron can surprise
There are many horses with each-way chances in the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle and slight preference goes to Ciceron, who seems to have a number of things going for him.
Ciceron is 25/1 in the Cheltenham betting and has continued to improve over what has been a fairly busy season, involving five races.
Victories have been secured in the most recent pair of these, which were both at Taunton.
The latest of these wins arrived at the end of February and the fact that he raced towards the rear of the field, before making smooth headway through the pack could be particularly notable in the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle.
This is because just three of the last 40 horses to make the frame in the Grade Three contest have raced prominently towards the front of the field, with Thousand Stars delivered late by Katie Walsh to land the spoils 12 months ago.
Ciceron’s active season should also not be held against him as 16 of the last 17 winners had run at least four times in the same season before heading to the Festival.
However, perhaps the most noteworthy statistic to follow is that the last six victors have all been rated between 128 and 135, which goes against many of the leading fancies.
Ski Sunday is rated 143, Alavain 144 and Soldatino 148.
The two market leaders that do feature towards the bottom of the weights are 6/1 shot Dirar and Alarazi at 9/1.
But the fact that only one seven-year-old has triumphed since 1993 counts against the former, while Dirar was not particularly convincing at Kempton on his latest start and will need to significantly improve for this run.
A £20 stake on Ciceron winning the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle would return £500. New customers can sign up here to take advantage of free bets totalling up to £60.