The obvious place to start this week is Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham. There was plenty of dramatic action on the track and that led to some huge movement in The Festival ante-post markets. Let’s take a look and see which horse racing odds are standing out after this weekend’s racing with my Cheltenham Festival ante-post round-up below.
Zone cut for Triumph
Comfort Zone had a penalty to shoulder having won the Grade 2 Finale Hurdle at Chepstow over Christmas and he landed the opening race on the card, the Triumph Trial. He showed great battling qualties to beat Scriptwriter by 3/4L. Like Comfort Zone, Milton Harris’ charge was also carrying a Grade 2 penalty. He came out of the race with great credit as well and they pulled clear of the rest of the field. The winner is now 10/1 with Bet365 for the Triumph Hurdle and the 2nd can be backed at 16/1 with the same firm.
Stage is a Star for Owners Group
The Owners Group have provided their many owners with plenty of big winners over the years and Stage Star looks like another who will take them to a big meeting. He took the novices’ handicap off a mark of 142 in a manner which suggests he wouldn’t be out of place in a Grade 1 novice chase at The Festival. The Turners Novices Chase looks the most likely contest for him and he is 16/1 with Bet365 for that race.
Work only 3rd in Cross Country
The Cross Country contest at The Festival isn’t a handicap which needs to be considered when looking back at the race over that course on Saturday which was a handicap. Last year’s Festival winner Delta Work had to carry top weight and he ran a perfectly fine race to finish 3rd to Back On The Lash. He remains a short price favourite at 5/4 with Bet365 to win the Cross Country for a 2nd time. Back On The Lash is 20/1 with Betfair and Paddy Power for the same race.
Du Gite causes Grade 1 shock
The rescheduled Clarence House Chase saw the finish of the day as Editeur Du Gite got back up to head Edwardstone late on. Gary Moore’s charge wasn’t even set to run at Ascot last week, but with the race going to Cheltenham connections supplemented him for the race. He jumped superbly and deserved this Grade 1 success. The big disappointment of the race was 4/9F Energumene who could only finish 3rd after a bad mistake at the last. His trainer Willie Mullins blamed the change of colour of the fence board from orange to white for his run, which does seem an odd excuse! Both Edwardstone and Energumene still head the market for the Champion Chase with the former a best price of 2/1 with Bet365 and the latter a best price of 5/2 with Paddy Power and Betfair. Saturday’s winner is now into 6/1 with BetVictor to add to Saturday’s prize.
Surprise in Cotswold Chase
There was a surprise in the other main race on the card, the Cotswold Chase as despite some terrible jumping on the way round Ahoy Senor managed to stay on strongly up the hill to hold off Sounds Russian. Grand National winner Noble Yates found himself outpaced as the race started to hot up, but he stayed on really well to only be just behind them in 3rd. Protektorat was only just behind them in 4th, but it was a disappointing run from the Betfair Chase winner. You have to think the winner will have to jump a lot better to win a Cheltenham Gold Cup, but he was cut into 12/1 with Bet365. Sounds Russian entered the picture for the contest and he is now 25/1 with Betfred. Protektorat was pushed out to 20/1 with Betfair and Paddy Power. It is the 3rd Noble Yates who is the shortest price for The Festival at 8/1 with Bet365 and he remains 14/1 favourite to land the Grand National for a 2nd time with William Hill.
French raider stakes Stayers’ claim
Connections of Gold Tweet weren’t expecting too much from the horse in the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle, but the French raider put in a very impressive performance. He would need to be supplemented for the Stayers’ Hurdle, but he would be a leading contender if connections do stump up the fee. He is 8/1 with William Hill for that contest. Dashel Drasher put in his usual game front running effort to finish 2nd and he is 25/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair for the Stayers’ Hurdle. Paisley Park couldn’t win the Cleeve Hurdle for a 3rd time as he finished 3rd and is 20/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair to regain his Stayers’ Hurdle crown.
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