Betfair Hurdle Day always provides interesting pointers for Cheltenham Festival while some high quality Navan racing brightened up our Sunday but the story of the weekend was a number of high profile horses being turned over at short odds.
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Violet Dancer put in the most impressive performance on Saturday, storming to an easy victory over a big favourite in the King Maker at Warwick. This saw a dramatic drop in his Arkle prices, coming in from 50/1 with some bookmakers, to as low as 14/1.
Houblon Des Obeaux romped to victory around his favourite course in the Grade 2 Denman Chase, A race which he was runner up last year in to Coneygree. He could be a late entrant for a third crack at the Gold Cup, but The Grand National at Aintree looks his most likely destination
Open Eagle’s easy Warwick win saw his odds in the Albert Bartlett come in from 33’s to around 20/1. Taquin Du Seuil looked to have returned to his 2014 JLT winning form, winning the Warwick Castle Chase later in the afternoon. This has 25/1 price in the Brown Advisory Plate slashed, making him the new favourite alongside Village Vic at 12/1.
Ryanair outsider Top Gamble saw his festival chances improve after an impressive showing in the Grade 2 chase at Newbury. He could be found at around 66/1 earlier in the week, but he’s come right in to a low price of 16/1.
Over in Ireland, Sempre Medici’s good form continued with a dominant victory in a Grade 2 at Gowran Park, he still remains an inviting 33/1 outsider for the Champion Hurdle. Meanwhile, a third odds-on victory on Irish soil for Smashing has seen his Ryanair chances improve. A month ago he was a 40/1 shot, he can now be found at around 10/1 behind favourite Vautour.
The big race of the weekend was the Grade 3 Betfair Chase at Newbury, won by Lizzie Kelly on-board her 16/1 shot Agrapart. Heading the market for the Betfair Hurdle were Blazer, Modus and Sternrubin, but all three will have been disappointed with how they performed and never really came into contention.
Modus was a 12/1 shot in the County Hurdle, he can now be found at 20’s, while Blazer has also dropped to a 20/1 shot in the same festival race, after sitting at the head of the betting earlier in the week. Sternrubin remains a 16/1 shot in the Coral Cup, but his odds in the Supreme Novices have slipped out from 33 to 66/1.
L’Ami Serge was the heavily back 1/5F ahead of Violet Dancer, but he ran and jumped very poorly. His odds for the JLT have taken a big hit, drifting out for 8/1 to around 16’s.
Two more favourite’s to come up short at Newbury were Emerging Talent and Activial, with the latter’s odds in the JLT have slipping out from around 12’s to as low as 33/1.
Second behind Top Gamble was last year’s Champion Chaser Dodging Bullets, as he returned to action for the first time since last year’s festival. He didn’t run too badly, on ground and a course that didn’t really suit, but his odds for retaining his Queen Mother Crown have slipped as a result, falling from 8/1 to 12/1 with most bookies.