Cheltenham Festival betting – Looking back on the weekend’s winners
Brian Healy looks back on last week’s horse racing action and details the latest Cheltenham Festival betting market moves following Ascot’s big meeting and racing action elsewhere throughout the week.
Ascot’s feature Saturday meeting saw several big names continue their Cheltenham Festival preparation with runs at the Berkshire venue where the Grade One Ascot Chase and Grade Two Rendlesham Hurdle took centre-stage.
Haydock, Gowran Park and Navan all also held high-profile fixtures over the weekend, but several potential Cheltenham Festival candidates saw their scheduled prep runs denied by the weather which forced a spate of cancellations throughout the week with several meetings being abandoned.
Brian Healy looks back on last week’s major UK and Irish race-winners and how they stand following their victories in the various Cheltennham Festival betting markets.
2020 ARKLE CHASE
Paul Nicholls’ promising chaser GREANETEEN faced a simple task at Fakenham on Friday and the Great Pretender gelding passed his latest test with flying colours as he readily brushed aside two rivals to extend his unbeaten record over fences to three from three.
Travelling well and jumping soundly in front under jockey Harry Cobden, the Ditcheat runner was a comfortable five lengths’ winner over Champagne Mystery who had no answers to the winner who was impressive and could now head to the Arkle Chase.
2020 FOXHUNTERS’ CHASE
Veteran performer SHANTOU FLYER warmed up for another potential crack at the Foxhunters’ Chase with a bloodless victory at Fakenham on Friday.
Rose Loxton’s charge brushed aside the challenge of five other rivals to run out an easy winner and the ten-year old will head next to the amateur riders’ Gold Cup where he could bid to go one place better than twelve months ago in the Foxhunters’ Chase where he was beaten only by Hazel Hill.
2020 SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE
Master Debonair saw his Cheltenham Festival betting odds drift following defeat in the opening race at Ascot on Saturday. However he bumped into a potentially high-class rival in SPORTING JOHN who maintained his unbeaten record in impressive fashion to leap towards the top of the betting for the Festival opener.
Philip Hobbs’ charge traveled well through the race before taking up the running on the run to the second last with Colin Tizzard’s Master Debonair under pressure having set out to make all.
The son of Getaway ran on strongly having jumped solidly throughout and Barry Geraghty only had to push him out to score by an easy six lengths and firmly enter the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle picture.
2020 NATIONAL HUNT CHASE
COPPERHEAD made it a hat-trick of wins when impressively landing the Grade Two Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase in an attritional contest that few got into and saw market leaders Sam Brown and Pym both pulled up.
Colin Tizzards’ charge jumped from fence to fence and he was already well on top when making a mistake at the last under Jonjo O’Neill Jnr, staying on strongly.
The National Hunt Chase could be next on the agenda for the Sulamani gelding where he shortened into third-favourite, although he also holds an entry in the RSA Chase where he is third-favourite in the Cheltenham Festival betting for that contest.
2020 RYANAIR CHASE
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ RIDERS ONTHE STORM leapt into the Ryanair Chase picture with a win in the feature Ascot Chase on Saturday and the Scorpion gelding features as fourth-favourite in the Cheltenham Festival betting following his defeat of Janika.
It might have been different for Nigel Twiston-Davies had the outsider of the field, Traffic Fluide, not come to grief at the last fence with defending champion Cyrname also departing the race at the final obstacle when a well-held fourth.
The latter has been taken out of the Cheltenham Festival althogether having lain winded for a time on the Ascot turf and giving rise to some anxious moments. There was a palatable sigh of relief however when the Nickname gelding got to his feet but his season is over now.
2020 CHAMPION HURDLE
Runaway Red Mills Trial Hurdle winner CILAOS EMERY could be set for a tilt at the Champion Hurdle following an impressive nine lengths’ defeat of Darasso.
In the wake of the win by the Califet gelding, trainer Willie Mullins hinted that the eight-year old might be supplemented for Tuesday’s showpiece.
It would cost upwards of £20,000 for connections to do so, but the manner of his Saturday victory was enough to see him installed as fourth-favourite for the hurdling crown behind stablemate Benie Des Dieux and the Nicky Henderson pair of Epatante and Pentland Hills.
2020 GOLD CUP
Henry De Bromhead’s CHRIS’S DREAM showed he could be a Gold Cup contender with a game display to win the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park on Saturday and the Mahler gelding could now head to the Cheltenham Festival showpiece.
Having made all the running over a trip possibly shorter than his best, he found plenty for his rider’s urgings and he was still travelling best entering the straight. Although challenged by Shattered Love on the run to the second-last fence he found more when pressed and kept on strongly to the line.
The Mahler gelding still holds a Ryanair Chase entry, but his odds for the Gold Cup were clipped slightly although he still features at a big price in the ante-post markets with his trainer remaining tight-lipped about his rising star’s Festival target.
2020 STAYERS’ HURDLE
EMITOM bounced back from his defeat at Cheltenham on his reapperance to run out a ready winner of the Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock and Warren Greatex’s charge enters the Stayers’ Hurdle picture following that smooth success.
Always travelling well, the Gold Well gelding overcame some crowding on the turn into the straight and he could even afford a last-hurdle mistake as he powered to an easy eight lengths’ victory over Donna’s Diamond where he showed a smart turn of foot in the heavy conditions.
The Stayers’ Hurdle and a clash with Paisley Park could now be on the agenda where he is now fourth-favourite behind Emma Lavelle’s defending champion.
2020 TRIUMPH HURDLE
Paul Nicholls’ SIR PSYCHO stamped his Festival credentials with an impressive victory in the Victor Ludorum Hurdle at Haydock where the Zoffany gelding ran out an eight lengths’ victor over Rockadenn.
However despite the easy win inflicted on his rivals there was limited movements in the Cheltenham Festival betting for Friday’s opener where remains a double-digit price for the Triumph Hurdle behind the likes of Goshen and Allmankind.
2020 PERTEMPS NETWORK HURDLE
Nicky Henderson enjoyed some success on the Haydock card when his WELSH SAINT made the most of his relatively modest weight to book his place in the Pertemps Network Final on Festival Thursday.
The Saint Des Saints gelding stayed on best to hold off Silva Eclipse after the last although it remains to be seen what the result might have been had Portrush Ted not crashed out at the last obstacle when holding the slenderest of advantages.
The Henderson runner needed a big performance to make it into the Festival contest and he duly delivered for connections. He’s now sixth-favourite for that contest behind Phoenix Way and Lisnagar Oscar.
2020 ALBERT BARTLETT HURDLE
David Pipe’s RAMSES DE TEILLEE entered the Albert Bartlett Hurdle picture with a battling win the Prestige Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday and the admirable dual-purpose performer has been rejuvenated back over the smaller obstacles this term.
The writing had looked on the wall for him in that race with the strong-travelling Kalooki seemingly having his measure over the three-mile slog; but he dug deep when it mattered to battle back once headed and win going away again.
He could rate a decent each-way chance in the Thursday feature but will conditions be soft enough for him? His abundant stamina will stand him in good stead in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle especially if the ground comes up soft and he surely isn’t without chances.
Although beaten on his return to action in Sunday’s Boyne Hurdle, TIGER ROLL cemented his position at the head of the Cheltenham Festival betting for the Cross-country Chase with trainer Gordon Elliott delighted by the return of the dual-Grand National winner.
Boyne Hurdle winner Cracking Smart meanwhile holds entries in a couple of the Cheltenham Festival handicaps but plans remain fluid for him; while runner-up Penhill will head to the Stayers’ Hurdle – a race he won in 2018.