Whilst there was plenty of attention on Leopardstown last weekend that doesn’t mean that there weren’t some clues for the Cheltenham Festival elsewhere as we get ever closer to its highly–anticipated start date. Here is my Cheltenham ante-post round-up covering the recent action from around the racecourses.
Punchestown Princess one to watch
Last Monday, at Punchestown, Princess Zoe made her hurdles debut in the Mares Maiden Hurdle. She has been a star stayer on the level for the last couple of seasons and it was fascinating to see how she coped with obstacles in the way. It is fair to say some of her jumping left a lot to be desired and, in the end, she dead-heated for the win with Ladybank. Both horses are quoted in the Mares Novice Hurdle market for The Festival with Princess Zoe at 16/1 with Bet365 and Ladybank is 16/1 with William Hill.
Clermont’s jumping needs to improve
It’s becoming clear to see that Famous Clermont has the engine to run a big race in the Hunters Chase at The Festival as he landed the Hunters Chase at Wincanton with ease on Thursday. The problem is that his jumping remains a big issue. He never looked like falling, but he does have his own way of getting over fences. Connections might decide to wait another year in the hope his jumping improves, but he is 12/1 with Bet365 for this year’s race.
Luck of the Irish at Sandown
Sandown had a good card on Saturday and the opening race went the way of Olly Murphy’s Chasing Fire. Murphy was very complimentary about him after the race as he landed his 3rd hurdle success with ease. It will be interesting to see how he fares against the Irish, but he looks to be one of the leading British hopes for the Supreme and is 16/1 with Bet365.
Speaking of the Irish, it was Gordon Elliott’s turn to land one of the British Grade 1’s as Gerri Colombe took the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase. He is now the clear favourite for the Brown Advisory at 3/1 with Paddy Power, but his owner said after the race he might not go to Cheltenham this season as he sees him as a Gold Cup horse for next term. One race that has been ruled out is the National Hunt Chase as he now can’t qualify for it.
Lack of strength at Musselburgh
Musselburgh held their Cheltenham Trials Day meeting over the weekend although it is unlikely that too many will be heading to The Festival. One that might make that journey is Paul Nicholls’ Afadil, who landed the Scottish Triumph Hurdle on Sunday. He is 25/1 with Bet365 for the Cheltenham version next month.
If you want to find more of our best tips for the Cheltenham Festival then check out our Cheltenham Tips page with picks from our team of expert horse racing tipsters.