The Road to Cheltenham is well and truly underway and we got some interesting pointers over the past seven days that should help us with our ante post betting for the Cheltenham Festival. The big meeting in March will be here before we know it and as always we will provide our weekly blog in a bid to help our followers’ find some value. It was another very eventful week so let’s get stuck into the good and bad and also look at what we have to look forward to this coming week.
This Week’s Racing
The Hennessy Gold Cup is the feature race this weekend and we have all of our followers’ needs covered. The current favourite is Native River who could be a Gold Cup runner later in the season. Former winner Smad Place is among the entrants but will have to carry a welterweight.
The Long Distance Hurdle, Fighting Fifth and Troytown Chase are all on the menu this weekend too and we will have previews done for each race so stay tuned.
Performance Of The Week – Cue Card
Colin Tizzard’s Cue Card brought the roof off the stands at Haydock on Saturday when landing the Betfair Chase in emphatic fashion. Many were doubting his Gold Cup credentials this year as he is now a year older and he was turned over by Irish Cavalier on his seasonal reappearance. However, he wasn’t long quietening his doubters. He travelled beautifully, jumped beautifully and forged clear half a mile from home to beat Coneygree. He must be considered seriously for the Gold Cup off the back of that performance, there’s no doubt he was the most likely winner of the race last season but for a fall. 7/1 looks a very big price off the back of that performance.
Cheltenham Festival Ante Post – Key Points
- Nicky Henderson’s Top Notch justified 1/8 favouritism at Warwick to score by 15 lengths in a weak novices’ affair. The former Triumph Hurdle 2nd and last years’ Champion Hurdle 5th is now a 25/1 chance for the JLT Novices’ Chase.
- Willie Mullins has another potential super mare on his hands in the shape of Asthuria. The French import was placed behind Jer’s Girl in a Grade 1 on her first start for the yard at the end of last season and she hacked up on seasonal debut at Fairyhouse. She is currently 14/1 for the Mares’ Hurdle but her most likely target will be the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle where she is the 8/1 favourite.
- Alelchi Inois has been slashed to 10/1 for the Cross Country Chase in March after winning the Clonmel Oil Chase, albeit in fortunate circumstances. Outlander had the race at his mercy but fell at the last fence.
- Different Gravey is now 16/1 for the JLT Novices’ after an impressive win at Ascot on Friday. The Nicky Henderson trained chaser drifted from 8/15 out to Evens but still went on to win very handsomely. That was his debut over the larger obstacles and he looks an exciting prospect.
- Oliver Sherwood’s Cloudy Dream was well in at the weights at Haydock but was extremely impressive nonetheless and he can now be backed at 25/1 for the JLT Novices’ Chase.
- Royal Regatta was a winner of the Stella Artois 1965 Chase at Ascot, seeing off the strong finishing Kylemore Lough by a head. The disappointment of the race was Dodging Bullets; the former Champion Chaser was pulled up. God’s Own was back in 3rd but had a lot of weight to carry.
- Last seasons’ Neptune 2nd Yanworth got this season off to the perfect start with victory at Ascot on Saturday. He is now 20/1 for both the Champion Hurdle and the Arkle, an exciting prospect for Alan King.
- Sire De Grugy rolled back the years to win a handicap at Ascot in good fashion off top weight. The former Champion Chase winner is 25/1 to land the race this coming season. The disappointment in the race was Vaniteux who was receiving 6 pounds from the winner, he looks a horse to keep well away from this coming season.
- My Tent Or Yours was the biggest disappointment this week. Nicky Henderson’s star finished 3rd of the 4 runners in the Price Rush Hurdle behind Ch’tibello, albeit in very testing conditions. That doesn’t do the form of last years Champion Hurdle much good.
- Cue Card was the highlight of the weekend, winning the Betfair Chase by 15 lengths, an amazing performance. Coneygree ran a brilliant race after a long lay off to finish 2nd. If Cue Card wins the King George, he will be in line to win £1 Million if he can then go on and win the Gold Cup. If he is in contention, the Tizzard’s could run Thistlecrack in the World Hurdle. Cue Card is 7/1 to win the Gold Cup, Coneygree is 9/1.
- Ex flat performer Landofhopeandglory won very impressively at Punchestown and is now installed as the 10/1 favourite to win the Triumph Hurdle. He has a high cruising speed and an electric turn of foot, JP McManus could land this race yet again.
- Let’s Dance has improved with each start this year for Willie Mullins and she is another contender for the Mares’ Hurdle in March (16/1) after seeing off Shattered Love at Punchestown. The Mares’ Novices Hurdle is another possibility for the Rich Ricci horse (8/1).
- Cantlow was a ready winner of the Risk Of Thunder Chase at Punchestown and could look a bit of each way value for the Cross Country Chase at 16/1. He could only manage 10th last season but could be a potential improver this season.
- The most talked about Supreme Novices’ Hurdle horse Senewalk was bitterly disappointing first time out in the Rich Ricci colours at the weekend. Touted as being Rich’s main contender for the race this season, he could only muster up 6th place in testing conditions behind Moulin A Vent. He is now 33/1 for the Cheltenham Festival opener from 10’s.
- Henry De Bromhead is having the season of his career to date and Peace News looks a juvenile going places for him after a fine success at Cork on Sunday. He is now 12/1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. At the same meeting, Monbeg Worldwide won for Gordon Elliott, now 33/1 for the Champion Bumper.
- Identity Thief made it 2 from 2 over fences at Punchestown on Sunday, seeing off the gallant stablemate Ordinary World. Henry De Bromhead’s charge disappointed in the Champion Hurdle last season but looks transformed over the bigger obstacles. He is 8/1 to taste Arkle success.
- Mud lover A Toi Phil hacked up in the Grade 2 Florida Pearl Novice Chase for Gordon Elliott and is now a 25/1 chance for the RSA Chase and the same price for the JLT. If the ground is soft come March, this horse won’t be far away no matter which one he goes for.
- Willie Mullins landed yet another Morgiana Hurdle on Sunday with Nichols Canyon who beat Jer’s Girl very comfortably. The World Hurdle could be the likely target for this horse who is hard to place and he is currently 8/1. Jer’s Girl has been eased to 6/1 for the Mares’ Hurdle but she had a lot of condition on her and will come on bundles for the run.
- Altior got life as a chaser off to the perfect start, running out a 63 length winner, beating Black Corton in a two runner affair. The horse from Seven Barrows has an unbelievable engine and only made one jumping mistake. He will take a lot of beating in the Arkle and is now best priced 5/2.