Cheltenham Festival market movers – Festival betting movements following the weekend’s action

Brian Healy looks over the Cheltenham Festival market movers following some top-class UK and Irish horse racing over the past week.

The Dublin Racing Festival is now in the rear-view mirror and two days’ top class racing action saw eight Grade One races going to post; while at Musselburgh there were Cheltenham Festival trials aplenty.

With excellent racecards at Sandown where the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase and Contenders’ Hurdle both threw up surprise winners, as well the Towton Novices’ Chase going to post at Wetherby there were plenty of Cheltenham Festival clues to be gleaned over the weekend.

Brian Healy looks over the weekend’s action just passed and details the Cheltenham Festival market movers as the greatest show on turf edges ever closer.

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL MARKET MOVERS AT A GLANCE

Honeysuckle (5/1, Unibet – Champion Hurdle)
Notebook (3/1, Coral – Arkle Chase)
Cashback (7/1 Coral – Arkle Chase)
Chacun Pour Soi (3/1, BetVictor – Champion Chase)
Latest Exhibition (8/1, Coral – Albert Bartlett Hurdle)
Asterion Forlonge (13/2, William Hill – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle)
A Wave Of The Sea (16/1, Bet365 – Triumph Hurdle)
Delta Work (6/1, Paddy Power – Gold Cup)
Faugheen (6/1, Paddy Power – Marsh Chase)
Itchy Feet (9/1, Unibet – Marsh Chase)

2020 CHAMPION HURDLE

Honeysuckle made to work hard at Leopardstown

Henry de Bromhead’s HONEYSUCKLE (5/1 Unibet) strengthened her Champion Hurdle claims with a battling success over Petit Mouchoir and the fast-finishing Darvers Star to land the PCI Irish Champion Hurdle on Saturday’s racecard and extend her unbeaten run to a perfect seven from seven.

The Sulamani mare was made to scrap all the way to the line, possibly not ideally suited by the drop to two miles on drying ground on her first attempt going left-handed.

However, she battled like a lion to preserve her unbeaten run where she was cut into 9/2 with some firms although her Festival target remains unclear and she may still yet head to the Mares’ Hurdle.

Honeysuckle strengthened her Cheltenham Festival claims for the Champion Hurdle.

Honeysuckle landed the Irish Champion Hurdle and is a market mover for the Cheltenham showpiece.

Willie Mullins in a quandary with Sharjah and Benie

Klassical Dream was scratched from the Irish Champion Hurdle, easing out in the betting slightly and is now a 10/1 chance for the Cheltenham showpiece.

Meanwhile, Sharjah’s poor performance in the same race saw his odds pushed out to 20/1 from 16/1 and big-race jockey Patrick Mullins was at a loss to explain afterwards his partner’s poor showing. The relative proximity however of the fast-finishing Darvers Star and Petit Mouchoir cast some aspersion on that form and the Champion Hurdle picture remains unclear although Benie Des Dieux’s owner Rich Ricci hinted that he might be tempted by a Champion Hurdle tilt with his star mare which could muddy the waters further.

Call Me Lord turned over at Sandown

The Contenders Hurdle meanwhile has been used in the past by Nicky Henderson as a stepping stone to the Champion Hurdle, notably with Buveur D’air. Call Me Lord was the latest to tread the tried and tested route, but the International Hurdle winner wasn’t able to land the spoils, outbattled by Paul Nicholls’ Quel Destin.

Nicky Henderson doesn’t have a stand out contender in this year’s Champion Hurdle with last year’s Triumph Hurdle winner Pentland Hills having met with defeat on both outings this term, and Call Me Lord did little to strengthen Seven Barrows’ aspirations in the race where he was beaten three lengths.

2020 ARKLE CHASE

Notebook writes new Arkle Chase chapter

NOTEBOOK (3/1, Coral) was one of the most significant Cheltenham Festival market movers as he cemented his position at the head of the betting for the 2020 Arkle Chase with an impressive victory in the Irish Arkle and Henry de Bromhead’s charge is now as short as 5/2 in places for Tuesday’s two-mile novice chasing championship.

Runner-up Cash Back also came into the Arkle picture, finishing less than a length adrift of the winner although perhaps flattered by his proximity with the winner appearing to score with something in hand. He’s available around the 7/1 for those who fancy him to overturn Leopardstown form with Henry de Bromhead’s star

Melon meanwhile disappointed back in fourth but remains a general 20/1 chance; while Fakir D’oudairies was taken out of the race on account of the drying ground and Joseph O’Brien’s charge was eased slightly in the betting to around 6/1.

Notebook strengthened his Arkle Chase credentials with a win at Leopardstown.

Notebook strengthened his Arkle Chase credentials with a win at Leopardstown.

2020 CHAMPION CHASE

Chacun Pour Soi cements Champion Chase claims

Willie Mullins’ CHACUN POUR SOI (3/1, BetVictor) leapt firmly into the picture for the Champion Chase with a smooth success over stablemate Min in the Dublin Chase. Willie Mullins’ charge saw his price slashed to as short as 5/2 in places following his win although his task was made easier by the defection of A Plus Tard – who had beaten him previously – due to the drying ground with trainer Henry de Bromhead feeing that the two miles trip on the quicker ground might be too sharp.

Despite missing the race, the 2019 ’s Close Brothers Novices’ Chase winner remains available around the 8/1 mark, with Saturday’s runner-up in the race Min trading around the 10/1 mark although connections may step him back up in trip for the Ryanair Chase.

Cilaos Emery meanwhile was an early casualty but can be backed around 12/1 to win the Champion Chase.

2020 ALBERT BARTLETT HURDLE

Nolan’s charge puts on an Exibition

Paul Nolans’s LATEST EXHIBITION (8/1, Coral) stamped his Cheltenham Festival passport with a gutsy battling win in the opening Nathaniel Lacey Hurdle with a two lengths’ defeat of Cobbler’s Way, overcoming a last-hurdle mistake in the process.

The win saw his odds for the Albert Bartlett Hurdle slashed to as short as 5/1 for that contest although he remains in the betting for the Ballymore Hurdle. It was a first Grade One win in three years for rider Bryan Cooper; but it ended an even longer drought for the trainer whose last top-level success was in 2013.

Latest Exhibition strengthened his Albert Bartlett Hurdle claims.

Latest Exhibition strengthened his Albert Bartlett Hurdle claims.

2020 SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE

Mullins eyes more Supreme glory following Channelle Pharma win

ASTERION FORLONGE (13/2, William Hill) entered the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle picture with a scintillating success in the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle where he posted a near-ten lengths’ defeat of Easywork.

A significant Cheltenham Festival market mover, bookmakers were suitably impressed by his performance to slash his odds from a previously available 20/1 to as short as 5/1 in places.

Sent off at 4/1 for Sunday’s Grade One race, he travelled strongly through the contest as he and the runner-up Easywork tussled continually for the lead; but he quickly asserted from the second last hurdle to land the prize and now features towards the top of the betting for the Cheltenham Festival opener.

2020 TRIUMPH HURDLE

O’Brien runner sails into Triumph Hurdle picture

A WAVE OF THE SEA (16/1, Bet365) saw his Triumph Hurdle odds cut to as low as 12/1 following his win in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle although Joseph O’Brien’s charge was the benefactor of a last-flight fall by Aspire Tower who was just beginning to assert when crumpling on landing and unshipping Rachael Blackmore.

Henry de Bromhead’s charge had readily beaten the winner the time before, and the Born To Sea gelding is as big as 8/1 in places with third-placed Cerberus now as big as 20/1 for the Cheltenham Festival Friday opener.

2020 GOLD CUP

Delta Works way into Gold Cup contention

The Irish Gold Cup didn’t disappoint with the front three home jumping the last almost in unison where it was DELTA WORK (6/1, Paddy Power) who came out on top in a thriller to stake a big claim for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The RSA Chase form from last year looks really strong now, and Gordon Elliott’s charge battled well to deny Willie Mullins’ Kemboy and Pat Kelly’s Presenting Percy who finished third.

Delta Work had been as big as 8/1 for chasing’s Blue Riband, but he was subsequently slashed to as low as 4/1 for the Festival feature following a pulsating renewal of the Irish equivalent, although Kemboy’s jumping wasn’t entirely fluent and might have cost him. Bookmakers were unimpressed enough to push Willie Mullins’ hopeful out to as big as 8/1 in places with Presenting Percy also drifting out to 14/1.

Delta Work was a Cheltenham Festival market mover in the wake of his Irish Gold Cup win.

Delta Work struck gold in the Irish Gold Cup.

2020 MARSH NOVICES’ CHASE

Evergreen Faugheen set for another Festival tilt

Twelve-year old FAUGHEEN (6/1, Paddy Power) delighted his legion of fans with a storming success in the Flogas Novices’ Chase, digging deep to hold off a strong challenge from stablemate Easy Game and potentially stamp his place in the Marsh Novices’ Chase line-up although the ‘Machine’ holds entries in all three novice chases and it remains to be seen what will be his final target.

The veteran has bounced back to be reborn over fences, winning a third straight win over the larger obstacles on Sunday past and is now available as short as 4/1.

Meanwhile, Battleoverdoyen can now be backed as big as 40/1 for the race formerly known as the JLT Novices’ Chase following his fall in behind Faugheen on Sunday.

Murphy’s charge stratches Grade One itch at Sandown

Elsewhere, Itchy Feet jumped into the Cheltenham Festival reckoning with a battling success in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase. Olly Murphy’s charge holds entries in both the Marsh Novices’ Chase and the Arkle Chase, but following his defeat of Midnight Shadow at the Esher track his odds were slashed to as low as 8/1 for Festival Thursday’s opener.

Laurina however again blotted her copybook with another tame effort at Sandown and is now out to a best-priced 33/1.

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL MARKET MOVERS AT A GLANCE

Honeysuckle (5/1, Unibet – Champion Hurdle)
Notebook (3/1, Coral – Arkle Chase)
Cashback (7/1 Coral – Arkle Chase)
Chacun Pour Soi (3/1, BetVictor – Champion Chase)
Latest Exhibition (8/1, Coral – Albert Bartlett Hurdle)
Asterion Forlonge (13/2, William Hill – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle)
A Wave Of The Sea (16/1, Bet365 – Triumph Hurdle)
Delta Work (6/1, Paddy Power – Gold Cup)
Faugheen (6/1, Paddy Power – Marsh Chase)
Itchy Feet (9/1, Unibet – Marsh Chase)

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