This weekend we saw plenty of Cheltenham Festival clues on both sides of the Irish Sea. The obvious place to start is the November Meeting at Prestbury Park. 42 Festival winners have ran at the November meeting in the same season in the last decade and 12 of those won at both meetings.
Let’s start on Friday where Paul Nicholls’ Hermes Allen ran out a very impressive winner of the Grade 2 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. After the race the trainer discussed stepping up in trip for the Challow Hurdle at Newbury over Christmas which could mean that his Festival target will be the Albert Bartlett on the final day and he is now as short as 8/1 with Unibet for that race.
14/1 is the current top price with Bet365 and Betfred. This race has produced 4 winners of the Ballymore Novices Hurdle in March and he is top price 10/1 for that with William Hill and Betfred.
Saturday’s card got underway with the Grade 2 Triumph Hurdle Trial and the warm favourite Blueking D’Oroux was a big disappointment and pulled up before 3 out. That left the way for Milton Harris’ Scriptwriter to come home in front and it meant Milton won the race for the 2nd year running after Knight Salute took this last year.
You can get 25/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair for the Triumph Hurdle. The 2nd Perseus Way didn’t jump well on hurdling debut, but has clearly got an engine and if he brushes up on his jumping then he might be back here in March. He was cut into 25/1 with Bet365 and Betfred.
Banbridge impresses in Arkle Trial
Banbridge is already a Cheltenham Festival winner having won the Martin Pipe in March and he jumped really well on his way to winning the Arkle Trial. We are set to see current Arkle favourite Jonbon at Warwick on Wednesday, but Joseph O’Brien’s charge has thrown a decent marker down and Bet365 are top price at 16/1. He has also shown he can win over further so he could be aimed at the Turners on Day 3 instead and he is 12/1 with Bet365 for that contest. Connections of the 2nd Tommys Oscar said they will be coming back for the Arkle in Match and he is 50/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair.
In the last race Oliver Sherwood’s Queens Gamble was a very impressive winner and that added to her success here back in April. Not surprisingly she now heads the Champion Bumper market at 10/1 (Bet365, William Hill, Paddy Power and Betfair). Her trainer said she will next run at Huntingdon next month before heading to the Festival.
The big race on Day 3 was the Greatwood Hurdle and it was won by I Like To Move It in what was a great front running performance. He is now favourite for the County Hurdle with Unibet at 12/1.
The Supreme Trial went to Fennor Cross trained over in Ireland by John McConnell. He was following up after a win over course and distance last month and he is a top price of 40/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair for the opening race of the Festival.
Over in Ireland Gentleman De Mee, who had beaten Edwardstone at Aintree in April, made his seasonal return in a Grade 3 at Naas on Saturday. It didn’t go to plan though as he was beaten when unseating at the last as he tried to avoid a faller. Not surprisingly, he was pushed out to 33/1 with Bet365, Paddy Power and Betfair for the Champion Chase.
Three Striped Life proved himself top class over hurdles last season after winning at the Grand National meeting and he might be an even better chaser judged on his win in a Beginners Chase at Naas. He is now at the head of the market at 8/1 (Bet365, Paddy Power, William Hill, Betfred, Betfair and BetVictor) for the Brown Advisory and he is shorter for the Turners Novices’ Chase at 7/1 with Bet365, Paddy Power and Betfair. BetVictor were clearly very impressed as they are only 4/1.
Stayers Hurdle Clues
A horse who didn’t run over the weekend and hasn’t actually been seen in 11 months was the big market mover for the Stayers Hurdle. That is because Flooring Porter, the Stayers Hurdle winner in the last two seasons, was a bit disappointing on his return in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan on Sunday. He is still favourite to land the hat-trick but he is now 5/1 with William Hill. Blazing Khal is the name of the horse whose price contracted, and he is no bigger than 6/1 (Bet365, Paddy Power, Betfair and William Hill).
The winner of the Lismullen was Home By The Lee and he is 25/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair for the Stayers. Bob Olinger looked a superstar as a novice hurdler, but he wasn’t as good over fences last season and he made a solid return to hurdling when finishing 2nd. He can be backed at 14/1 with William Hill for the Stayers.
Finally Hollow Games made an excellent start to his chasing career in the Beginners Chase at Navan. He has a range of options going forward and is 16/1 (William Hill) for the Turners, 25/1 (William Hill) for the Brown Advisory and 12/1 (Bet365) for the National Hunt Chase.
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