Eye On Cheltenham – Lostintranslation new Gold Cup favourite after sparkling Betfair Chase victory

We run through the major market movers in the ante-post Cheltenham Festival betting, after a stunning weekend of racing at Haydock, Ascot and Navan.

The first leg of National Hunt racing’s Triple Crown took place at Haydock on Saturday and excitement was rife at Haydock Park, despite just four entrants taking part in this year’s Betfair Chase. King of Haydock, Bristol De Mai sat happily atop the betting right until the off as he attempted to seal a hat-trick of Betfair Chase victories, with Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation the well-backed second favourite.

Together with Bryony Frost and Frodon, Bristol De Mai took his customary position at the head of the field, with Robbie Power dropping Lostintranslation out the back. Entering the home straight, Power asked Lostintranslation to move a little closer and the crowd rose to their feet as the top two in the betting eyeballed one-another approaching the second-last.

Lostintranslation produced the better leap, but Bristol De Mai battled back valiantly and following the final flight, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge has wrestled back a narrow lead. Yet, it was Lostintranslation who proved the stronger stayer on the run to the line, running out a narrow winner of this prestigious Grade One.

Before the Betfair Chase, Lostintranslation sat second behind Kemboy in the Gold Cup betting. That all changed following his excellent Haydock victory however, with William Hill cutting Lostintranslation into 4/1 favouritism for Cheltenham’s showpiece event on the final day of the Festival.

The Betfair Chase was overshadowed somewhat by the seismic showdown between Altior and Cyrname at Ascot. Jumps racing’s two highest-rated chasers clashed for the first time in the Christy 1965 Chase and it was Altior – despite never previously stepping foot over two miles – who was the pick of the two in the betting, coming into 1/3 before the off.

While Altior may have dominated the betting, Cyrname controlled events on the track. One dodgy leap aside, Paul Nicholls’ stable star outjumped his unbeaten rival throughout and never looked like being passed, holding Altior at arm’s length on the run to the line to seal a tremendous victory and consign team-Altior to defeat for the first time over obstacles.

The two will likely clash again in a wide-open King George, but the Cheltenham Festival markets were also shaken up on the back of Cyrname’s triumph. Nicholls’ charge drifted a little in the Gold Cup betting, but Paddy Power was quick to cut his price in the Ryanair in from 12s to 8/1.

Altior saw his odds in the Ryanair and the Gold Cup slide, with Paddy Power now quoting odds of 14/1 and 33/1 in those respective races. However, with a return to two miles seeming inevitable after Christmas, Paddy Power decided to cut Altior at the top of the Champion Chase betting, clipping the two-time winner into 3/1 from 7/2.

Cyrname (right) comfortably holding off Altior at Ascot.

Irish fans were treated to a fantastic showdown of their own at Navan on Saturday, with multiple Grade One winners Laurina and Minella Indo going head-to-head on their chasing debuts. Willie Mullins’ mare was backed into odds-on favouritism before the off and, unlike Altior, she justified her price with a superb ten-length success.

Mullins’ mare was then slashed into favouritism for the Arkle across the boards, with William Hill offering the best current price of 11/2. Minella Indo, who jumped well but didn’t have the pace to beat Laurina over two-and-a-half miles, was clipped at the head of the betting for the RSA by William Hill, listing Henry De Bromhead’s charge as a 9/1 shot.

If The Cap Fits got his campaign off to the perfect start, retaining his Ascot Hurdle crown in fine style under a Grade One penalty. Harry Fry’s Liverpool Hurdle winner will now step back up to three miles for the rest of the campaign and was clipped in from 12s to 8/1 to beat Paisley Park in the Stayers’ Hurdle by Paddy Power.

Jamie Snowden watched Thebannerkingrebel secure an impressive maiden-hurdle victory in Saturday’s opener at Haydock, forcing Unibet to cut him into 20/1 to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Sunday’s feature race in Ireland went the way of Chris’s Dream, who received fresh quotes of 33/1 from Unibet in the Gold Cup after running away with the Troytown Handicap Chase.

Midweek viewers were treated to a wonderful display of chasing by Footpad on Thursday, as Willie Mullins’ star bounced back to winning ways with an emphatic triumph in the Listed Boomerang Chase. The former Arkle winner saw his price in the Ryanair cut from 16s into 8/1 by Paddy Power, while Unibet clipping Footpad into 33/1 to win the 2020 Gold Cup.

Nicky Henderson sent three of his top novice chasing prospects out during the week, with Angels Breath handing stablemate Birchdale a sound thrashing over two-and-a-half miles at Ascot on Friday. Angels Breath was subsequently cut into 8s from 20/1 to win the JLT at Cheltenham, with Paddy Power pushing Birchdale out from 20s to 33/1.

Mister Fisher made his first start over the larger obstacles at Warwick on Wednesday, but Henderson’s charge was upstaged by four-year-old Torpillo, who made the most of his weight-for-age allowance to secure a three-length triumph. Unibet was impressed enough to cut Torpillo and Mister Fisher in their betting for the Arkle, listing them at 25s and 33/1 respectively.

The Big Breakway made an impressive start to life over obstacles at Chepstow, hacking up under Robbie Power to secure an eight-length triumph. William Hill handed Colin Tizzard’s youngster fresh quotes of 25/1 in the Ballymore, while also cutting The Big Breakaway in from 25s to 16/1 in the Albert Bartlett.

While Nicky Henderson and Colin Tizzard would have been impressed by the youngster’s performances this week, Olly Murphy will have been dismayed by the effort Thomas Darby put in at Kempton on Monday, as last year’s Supreme runner-up was beaten out-of-sight on his second start over fences. At the start of the season, Thomas Darby was as short as 12/1 to win the Arkle, but after Monday’s shocking display, Unibet pushed Murphy’s charge right out to 50/1.