The place to start in this week’s round-up of Cheltenham Festival market movers is Jonbon who made his chasing debut at Warwick on Tuesday afternoon. On the back of a video of him schooling Paddy Power had already decided to pay out on ante-post bets on him for the Arkle, but for people who have backed him elsewhere they would have wanted to have seen an impressive performance from him and that is exactly what they did see.
His jumping was electric and not surprisingly he is already a short price favourite for the Arkle off the back of it. Bet365, Paddy Power, Betfair and Betfred are the biggest price about him for The Festival now at 2/1.
Gold Cup winner disappoints
Moving on to the weekend action and the Betfair Chase which saw the reappearance of last seasons Cheltenham Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard. He went off a well backed favourite to win the Haydock contest for the 2nd year running, but he put in a very lacklustre effort. He didn’t jump that well and Rachael Blackmore pulled him up in the home straight.
Nothing came to light straightaway as to why he was so disappointing and he was pushed out to as big as 12/1 to retain his Cheltenham crown in March. Meanwhile Protektorat landed the Betfair Chase in very easy fashion and his jumping was especially good. He looks set to head to Kempton for the King George on Boxing Day on his way to The Festival and is now 10/1 with Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill and Betfred for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Over at Punchestown on Saturday Queens Brook put her disappointing seasonal reappearance behind her when easily landing the Listed Mares Hurdle. She was 2nd to Marie’s Rock in the Mares’ Hurdle at The Festival in March and was cut into 10/1 with Paddy Power, William Hill, Betfair and BetVictor to go one place better this season.
The opener at Punchestown on Sunday was a race over the Banks course and saw the return of Delta Work, who of course was the party pooper when he beat his stablemate Tiger Roll in the Cross Country at Cheltenham last season. He was then 3rd in the Grand National the following month. He did manage to win on Sunday, but he only beat the 40/1 chance Singing Banjo by a short head. He is still favourite though to retain his crown in March and is 2/1 with Bet365 and William Hill. He is 25/1 with William Hill and Betfred (both already 5 places) to go two places better at Aintree in April.
Man returns in winning form
There was great excitement ahead of State Man’s seasonal return in the Morgiana Hurdle. He won the County Hurdle at The Festival last season and went onto the win the Champion Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival in April. It was a perfectly good return as he beat his stablemate Sharjah by a comfortable 4L. He is now 6/1 (Bet365, William Hill, Paddy Power and Betfair) 3rd favourite for the Champion Hurdle in March and will likely be seen next over Christmas at Leopardstown.
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