With the £100,000 Grade Three Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham undoubtedly one of the most exciting final races of the year, it comes as little surprise that champion trainer Paul Nicholls has gone all out to win for a second consecutive year, putting forward a total of seven potential entries at this early stage. Of those seven, Zubayr receives the most backing in the horse racing betting odds among bookmakers, despite having only made his debut earlier this year.
Having been on the mark last time around with Old Guard, Nicholls will be hoping one of his seven runners can repeat the trick, with All Set To Go likely to be among the frontrunners having finished as runner-up in a handicap hurdle at Haydock back in May. As well as this, 2015 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle victor and runner-up, Diego du Charmil and Romain de Senam also look set to provide more than ample firepower for Nicholls. In terms of horse racing betting, some bet on the jockey these days, with 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winning Paddy Brennan in contention to team up with Zubayr. Zubayr is 16/1 in the horse racing odds with bookmakers Betway to claim a famous win.
Despite such backing, it is in fact Paul King’s Winter Escape how dominates the betting at Betway, with the five-year-old backed at just 7/1 on. However, in such a highly competitive field, it is too close to call, with Phillip Hobbs also keen to throw his name into the ring. Having been victorious four times in the Greatwood, the likes of Garde La Victoire, Sternrubin and Ozzie The Oscar are among his candidates.
Meanwhile, contention for places at the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day are hotting up, with Vautour currently heading the horse racing betting odds at Betway with odds of 3/1. Willie Mullins’ 2016 Ryanair Chase winner will find himself up against high quality opposition however, with the likes of Cue Card, Douvan and Thistlecrack all offered relatively short odds also. The possibility of stablemates Cue Card and Thistlecrack is certainly an exciting prospect for racing fans, with the latter coming off the back of an incredible season which included a win in the Wold Hurdle at Cheltenham. However, with a shot at the Gold Cup next year in the mind of trainer Colin Tizzard, the prospect of such an adaption is certainly not an easy one to conjure.