As always it has been a very busy Christmas period and it can be guaranteed that we saw plenty of Cheltenham winners in action. Here is our Christmas ante-post round-up.
Let’s start at Kempton and the rearranged Long Walk Hurdle which was won by Paisley Park, who will turn 11 on New Year’s Day. He landed the Stayers Hurdle back in 2019 and clearly he retains plenty of his ability. He is 14/1 with Bet365 to regain his crown.
Hill reverses form
Thyme Hill had jumped terribly at Newbury last time when finishing behind McFabulous, but he reversed the form in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase in very impressive action. In what is one of the more open markets for a Grade 1 at Cheltenham he id into 3rd fav priced up at 8/1 with Bet365.
13th King George for Nicholls
Paul Nicholls landed the King George for the 13th time with Bravemansgame and he is now firmly in the Cheltenham Gold Cup picture as he is 10/1 with Bet365 for the contest. L’Homme Presse would have finished 2nd , but he unseated at the final fence. He’s been pushed out slightly for the Gold Cup to 8/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair although Cheltenham and 3m2f should suit him better than 3m round Kempton.
Upset in Desert Orchid
The Desert Orchid Chase on Tuesday saw a massive surprise as Edwardstone Tom Cannon and 28/1 shot Editeur De Gite took full advantage. The former is 11/4 with William Hill for the Champion Chase, whilst the latter is 33/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair on the back of a new personal best.
Triumph Hurdle Clues
The Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow may have been downgraded to a Grade 2, but we saw a cracking finish with Comfort Zone winning by a neck. Joesph O’Brien’s charge is now 14/1 with William Hill to land the Triumph Hurdle on the final day of The Festival.
Speaking of the Triumph Hurdle the ante-post favourite for the race Lossiemouth was in winning action herself on Boxing Day at Leopardstown. She had looked very good so far over hurdles and impressed yet again when landing the Grade 2 Juvenile Hurdle in easy fashion. She was cut into 6/4 (Bet365) for the contest.
Novices’ make Cheltenham claims
Willie Mullins had a fantastic time of things at Leopardstown and his Saint Roi landed the Grade 1 Novice Chase. He is already a winner at The Festival having landed the County Hurdle and given his proven Festival form he could well improve if he lines up in the Arkle. Bet365 go 16/1 for that contest.
At Limerick on Boxing Day Gerri Colombe landed the Grade 1 Novice Chase and afterwards his trainer Gordon Elliot mentioned the National Hunt Chase could be the target at Cheltenham and he is 10/1 with Bet365 for that contest.
On Tuesday at Leopardstown Dysart Dynamo made a very impressive winning chasing debut when landing the Beginners Chase by 28L. He is 6/1 for the Arkle with Bet365.
Lord is Champion contender
In the Grade 1 chase on the card Blue Lord announced himself as a possible Champion Chase contender as he bolted up in fantastic style. He was cut into 7/1 with Bet365 for the race and is one of just 3 horses in single figures for the contest.
Facile Vega didn’t impress everyone when landing the Grade 1 Future Champions Novice Hurdle, but last year’s Champion Bumper winner kept his unbeaten run going and he is now just Even money (Bet365) to land the opening race, the Supreme Hurdle, of the Cheltenham Festival.
Wednesday at Leopardstown saw Maxxum jump into favouritism for the Pertemps Network Final as he landed one of the Qualifiers by a huge 16L. Clearly, he is going to go up in the handicap for this victory, but he looks very progressive judge on this win and it is no surprise he is already just 4/1 with Bet365 to land what is usually one of the most competitive handicaps at The Festival.
Lee is new Stayers Favourite
The Christmas Hurdle was run in honour of Jack de Bromhead this year and it saw Home By The Lee follow up his Lismullen Hurdle success. He deserves his place at the head of the Stayers Hurdle market after that win and is 7/1 with William Hill. Dual Stayers Hurdle winner Flooring Porter finished 4th behind the winner for the 2nd time this season, but given his Cheltenham record you wouldn’t rule him out reversing the form and he is 8/1 with Bet365 to land the hat-trick at Cheltenham.
Sadly, A Plus Tard had to miss the Savills Chase, but Conflated landed the contest in good style and although his owner mentioned the Ryanair Chase after the race, he was surely only saying it in jest and he ought to line up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup for which he is 12/1 with William Hill.
On the final day of Leopardstown’s 4-day meeting Gaillard Du Mesnil opened his chase account at the 7th time of asking in the Grade 1 Novice Chase. He was 3rd in last seasons Irish Grand National and you would imagine the National Hunt Chase will be his target at Cheltenham, for which he is priced up at 7/4 with William Hill.
Hill v Man for Champion Crown
Constitution Hill showed his class yet again when landing the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day and his main rival State Man also landed a Grade 1 over Christmas. He took the Metheson Hurdle on Thursday and is 5/1 with William Hill for the Champion Hurdle in March. Even so at this stage it is hard to see how Constitution Hill can be beaten and odds of 4/11 (Paddy Power and Betfair) really do sum up his chances of winning the Day 1 feature.