Sadly the cold weather has got in the way of the jumping action in the UK with Hereford last Monday being the last meeting before the freeze came. With the weather set to warm up this week, we should get plenty of Festival clues at Cheltenham and Doncaster on Saturday. Fortunately, though there have been some meetings in Ireland that have beaten the weather and there have been movements in the Cheltenham markets.
Warrior has Cheltenham options
Gaelic Warrior was one of the big talking horses ahead of last year’s Cheltenham Festival and he was sent off a 13/8F in the Fred Winter, one of the most competitive handicaps of the meeting. He was just denied by Brazil that day although it does look strong form and the 3rd Bell Ex One has since landed a big jumps race in Australia. He was having his 2nd start of the season at Clonmel on Tuesday and he had little worry as he won hard held by 15L at odds of 1/14. It is doubtful we will find out which race he will go for until much nearer the time as he could easily go down the handicap route again. He is 7/1 for the Coral Cup with Paddy Power and Betfair, but chances are he will go for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle where he is 7/1 with Bet365.
Me heads Bumper betting
Willie Mullins is likely to have plenty of runners in the Champion Bumper and Its For Me is the number one contender after winning the bumper at Navan on Sunday. He was sent off at 4/9 and was a very impressive 10L winner. He jumped straight to the head of the market for the Champion Bumper and is 5/1 for The Festival with Bet365.
Action packed Thurles card
Thurles on Sunday staged a cracking card and it started in very dramatic fashion as Allegorie De Vassy did her best to unship Paul Townend at the 1st fence. Somehow, he managed to stay on top and after that she put in a devestating performance. She is a favourite for the Mares Chase at The Festival and is into 7/4 with Bet365.
There was more drama in the Grade 2 Chase as Haut En Couleurs came down at the last and might well have won the race. Instead, Fakir D’oudairies came home in front. The 8yo won the Ascot Chase last year and looks set to go their next month. He didn’t run at Cheltenham last season, but did finish 2nd in the Ryanair behind Allaho 2 years ago and is 10/1 with Bet365 to go 1 place better this season.
It was another winning novice hurdler for Willie Mullins as Embassy Gardens had a very easy 35L victory in the novice hurdle. His jumping was a bit novicey at times, but he looks a fine stamp of a horse and a strong stayer. Unusually Willie Mullins actually said which race he would run in at Cheltenham after the race although the Albert Bartlett is the only race that looks suitable for him anyway. He is now 2nd in the betting for that race at 9/1 with Bet365.
Cheltenham winner defeated
The concluding Hunter Chase saw last year’s Cheltenham Hunter Chase winner Billaway make his seasonal reappearance. He never wins first time out as his trainer always leaves a bit to work on and he was beaten in this race last year. Even so bookies did push his price out and he is 9/1 with Bet365. The very easy winner was Ferns Lock who is a stablemate of the front two in the market Vaucelet and Winged Leader. This was only his 5th start and he looks a serious horse. However, his trainer ruled out Cheltenham this season as he believes he is too young at this stage. He was cut into 7/1 with Bet365 for Cheltenham, but clearly unless the trainer changes his mind he won’t be going.
All odds accurate at time of writing.