This is the last week that horses looking to head to the Cheltenham Festival have their final prep runs and there were some promising performances during the week. With the Grand National weights out on Tuesday we also start the countdown proper to the Aintree spectacle. Here is the ante-post round-up for the Grand National and Cheltenham Festival.
Brook will look to go one place better
On Wednesday, Queens Brook, who was 2nd in the Mares Hurdle at The Festival last year, was back in action in the Grade 3 Quevega Mares Hurdle at Punchestown. She was able to bounce back in great fashion after her odds-on defeat in a similar event at Leopardstown last time. She is now 10/1 with William Hill to go one place better at Cheltenham next month.
Nusret cements Boodles chance
Kempton was the main card in Britain on Saturday and the opening Adonis Juvenile Hurdle went the way of the Irish as Joseph O’Brien’s Nusret came home in front. Given he doesn’t have an entry in the Triumph Hurdle it clearly suggests that the Irish juvenile hurdlers are a much superior bunch to the British. Nusret is in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at The Festival though and he is now 2nd favourite for that contest at 7/1 with Bet365 right now.
Power sees them off in the Coral Trophy
The big handicap at Kempton was the Coral Trophy and, in a dramatic finish, it just went the way of Our Power who held on by a neck from the rallying Flegmatik. He is number 62 in the order of entry for the Grand National for which he is now 20/1, but with connections thinking he won’t get in the Aintree contest he looks set to go for the Ultima at Cheltenham next month and he is 14/1 with William Hill for that race.
Speaking of the Grand National, one of the leading trials for it, the Bobbyjo Chase, was run at Fairyhouse on Saturday. The winner is Kemboy and he isn’t entered, but Vanillier who was 1/2L behind him in 2nd place is. This was a good effort from the 2021 Albert Bartlett winner as he was meeting the winner on 20lbs worse than handicap terms. He is now 25/1 for Aintree with Bet365.
Midlands National clues at Newcastle
The feature race on the day after Cheltenham ends is the Midlands National at Uttoxeter and it looks like the Eider at Newcastle on Saturday is going to be a big form clue for the race. It didn’t look likely for most of the 4m journey, but the warm favourite Kitty’s Light wore down The Galloping Bear on the run-in. He now heads the betting for the Midlands National at 7/1 with Bet365. The Galloping Bear ran a huge race in 2nd given he would have preferred softer ground and if it finally rains he would have a chance and is 16/1 with BetVictor.
Easy Chepstow winner heads to Final next
The final Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle qualifier was run at Chepstow on Saturday and it saw a very impressive winner in the shape of Thanksforthehelp. He has had a wind op since his last run and had cheekpieces on for the first time and he looked like a transformed horse winning as he liked. Not surprisingly, he is now just 7/1 for the Final at Cheltenham with Bet365.
Cross now leading Bartlett fancy
Finally on Sunday we saw a tremendous finish to the Grade 2 Johnstown Novice Hurdle at Naas with Corbetts Cross and Found a Fifty battling it out on the run-in with the former just getting the better by a head. Connections did say after the race that he would need the ground to be right for him if he is to go to Cheltenham as he doesn’t want it quick, but he is now 2nd favourite for the Albert Bartlett on the final day at 6/1 with William Hill.
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All odds accurate at time of writing.