Cheltenham Festival market movers – Betting reactions following the weekend’s results

Runners stream over a fence at the Cheltenham FestivalRunners stream over a fence at the Cheltenham Festival

Cheltenham Festival market movers

Following on from some terrific action over the weekend we take a look at how the Cheltenham Festival betting markets have responded to a few of the performances on show.

There were a few Cheltenham Festival clues to be had over the weekend with some possible contenders strutting their stuff at Warwick, Market Rasen and Punchestown and while there is still plenty of water to pass under the bridge between now and the Festival many punters will already be beginning to formulate their battle plans and selections.

We’ve picked out a few of the big performances from over the weekend and their effects on the Cheltenham Festival betting markets.

SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE


FAIRYTALE TO CONTINUE WITH DREAL DEAL?

It is perhaps hard to fathom the levels of progress shown this term by Dreal Deal since Ronan McNally switched the Arvico gelding back to hurdles from a couple of runs the flat and it remains to be seen how much more improvement there may be yet to come.

Well-beaten in a couple of flat starts in the summer, he won over hurdles from a mark of just 84 in September before striking twice back on the level. Having then won another two hurdles starts in handicaps he took a big step up in class on Sunday to contest the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle where he found another chunk of improvement to run out a three lengths’ victor of that Grade Two contest where he appeared to do the job readily.

That success has prompted his inclusion into the betting for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle where he’s now a best-priced 20/1 chance for the Festival curtain-raiser.

MARSH NOVICES’ CHASE


ENVOI ALLEN STRENGTHENS FESTIVAL CLAIMS

Sunday’s Sky Bet Killiney Novice Chase revealed little we didn’t already know about Envoi Allen who cruised to victory despite having to give 11lbs to his rivals in deep ground.

The task of Gordon Elliott’s star was made easier when Asterion Forlonges crashed out at the first fence with the fall also taking Sempo out of the contest and the expected shootout between Envoi Allen and Willie Mullins’ charge failed to materialise.

It was nonetheless a polished performance whose only semblance of a mistake was getting in tight at the final fence and he perhaps wasn’t altogether best suited by having to cut out the running although he’s unlikely to have to do so at Cheltenham.

There was little reaction in his odds for the Marsh Novices’ Chase with most bookmakers remaining unmoved at 10/11 although some layers still offer even money at the time of writing.

Cheltenham Festival market movers. Envoi Allen remains untouchable at the head of the Marsh Novices' Chase betting.

Cheltenham Festival market movers. Envoi Allen remains untouchable at the head of the Marsh Novices’ Chase betting.

JUMPING THE NAME OF THE GAME FOR ASTERION FORLONGES

Meanwhile Asterion Forlonge has now bitten the dust in his last two chase starts which would be a big concern for backers of Willie Mullins’ charge; but those who are keeping faith in the Coastal Path gelding can take advantage of odds around 33/1 on the seven-year old although his jumping will surely have to improve if he’s to force his way into the reckoning.

Despite a bloodless win on his chase debut, last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle fourth has now crashed out at Limerick and Punchestown; might a return to hurdling now be on the cards, or will Willie Mullins persevere with the Coastal Path over the larger obstacles?

GRAND ANNUAL CHASE


O’NEILL TEAM EYEING BIGGER TARGETS WITH SKY PIRATE

Jonjo O’Neill’s Sky Pirate strengthened his claims for the Grand Annual Chase with a convincing Warwick victory on Saturday to take the Edward Courage Cup.

Following up his earlier Cheltenham victory the Midnight Legend gelding was defying an 11lbs hike the weights with a two lengths’ victory over Amoola Gold and his improvement might not have ended there with the drop back to two miles for his last couple of outings proving a very good move.

The win saw several firms shorten Sky Pirate to as low as 5/1 for the contest on Festival Wednesday, but a couple of firms still hold the O’Neill runner at 8/1 for the former Festival closer which has been moved to Wednesday.

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL NOVICES’ CHASE


FORMER RSA CHASE NEXT FOR NEXT DESTINATION?

A top-class performer over hurdles for Willie Mullins, Next Destination has continued in top form since his switch to Paul Nicholls and the Dubai Destination made it 2-2 over fences by outpointing Fiddlerontheroof to land the Hampton Court Novices’ Chase.

The latter burst a blood vessel late on which might have contributed to his defeat although the winner made things tough for himself when appearing to be in trouble midway down the back straight before rallying well under pressure from Harry Cobden and turning in he was in front – a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.

The performance saw the nine-year old cut into as low as 8/1 for the race formerly known as the RSA Chase although 16/1 is still available and with an entry also in the National Hunt Chase his target remains fluid although after the race jockey Harry Cobden suggested Aintree may be next.

Perhaps one for the Betfair ‘non-runner no bet’ concession?

Cheltenham Festival market movers. Paul Nicholls will have a choice of targets for Next Destination.

Cheltenham Festival market movers. Paul Nicholls will have a choice of targets for Next Destination.

BALLYMORE NOVICES’ HURDLE


UNBEATEN ADRIMEL ENTERS BALLYMORE PICTURE

Tom Lacey’s Adrimel upheld his perfect record over hurdles with a battling victory in the Leamington Hurdle on Warwick’s Saturday racecard, beating off Mint Condition and Make Me A Believer in gutsy fashion.

Racing in cheekpieces for the first time the Tirwanko gelding made most of the running from the second flight of hurdles and battled on well under Richard Johnson once challenged, finding plenty.

His sole career defeat came in last season’s Champion Bumper and he proved the longer trip to be no issue when stepped up from two miles in the testing ground to readily see out the 2m 5f of Saturday’s contest.

Tom Lacey’s charge is now as short as 20/1 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle but value hunters can still avail of 33/1 in a couple of places.

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL CHAMPION BUMPER


PAM SLY’S EILEENDOVER STAMPS FESTIVAL CLAIMS IN STYLE

It’s always good to see a smaller yard turn out a nice Festival contender and Pam Sly could have a really nice prospect in Eileendover who preserved her unbeaten record in style when romping to victory in the Listed Alan Swinbank Mares’ Bumper, beating amongst others Willie Mullins’ Grangee.

Always travelling well in the testing ground despite stepping up in trip having won a couple of junior bumpers over shorter she showed no lack of stamina in powering clear under a confident Paul O’Brien to register a near-seven lengths’ victory.

The flat-bred Canford Cliffs mare was impressive enough to see her odds slashed for the Champion Bumper and she’s now as short as 7/1 in places with Bet365 holding the current best price on Pam Sly’s charge who’ll likely be fending off several big money offers for her star performer.