When four high profile West Ham United players were sent to learn the ropes from ITV’s racing commentator Richard Hoiles I wondered to myself what the boys might look to back at The Cheltenham Festival this year.
The first thing that struck me was to look for racing silks that are similar to West Ham’s famous claret and blue colours. The most obvious choice is the well known Gigginstown House Stud colours worn by jockeys when riding for Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary who owns Gigginstown House Stud.
With just under two weeks to the start of the 2018 renewal, O’Leary-owned horses have 134 entries over the four days. So let’s see if we can use Betway Insider to find some value bets for the West Ham boys.
Joe Hart the England international goalkeeper would probably be looking for a British-bred runner.
Unfortunately, this is akin to finding the proverbial needle in a haystack, so bearing in mind that with 75 England Caps, Hart has made some ‘smart’ saves in his time, his eye might be taken by Cracking Smart who has an entry in the £125,000 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle over three miles on Gold Cup Day. Available at odds of 5/1 he has previously won over three miles and in his last two races finished in second place in a Grade 2 and a Grade 1 events over shorter distances. The step back up to three miles might be in his favour.
James Collins the former Welsh International defender scored three goals in his career…
… one of which was against Russia in 2009. Gigginstown House Stud have Mengli Khan entered in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, a race which opens The Festival. Mengli Giray was a Khan of Crimea in the 14th and 15th centuries so memories of his goal against Russia might steer Collins in his direction. Mengli Khan can be backed at odds of 12/1 and boasts some smart Grade 1 winning form coming into the race.
Patrice Evra can have his pick of a number of French-bred horses.
The 36 year old defender recently signed for West Ham until the end of the season. For someone whose career has spanned 19 years, backing a runner in the longest race at The Festival, the £125,000 National Hunt Chase over 4 miles on the opening day, might well appeal. Irish trainer Gordon Elliott who has won the three of the last seven renewals of the race saddles Dounikos for Gigginstown House Stud. The seven year old French-bred Bay Gelding has previously won over 2 miles 7 furlongs and brings two wins from three starts this season into the race, and can be backed at 6/1.
The final member of Richard Hoiles’ commentary trainees was West Ham Captain Mark Noble.
Noble, who apart for a couple of lean spells at the start of his career has spent his whole career at West Ham, has made well over 350 appearances and has certainly earned the respect of fans and teammates alike. Therefore a bet on Road To Respect who runs in the biggest race of the week, the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup would appear apt. The Gigginstown runner is expected to make more improvement stepping up in trip and having won a Grade 1 over Christmas on his last start over 3 miles looks decent value at odds of 9/1.