Cheltenham Festival News
|Wednesday 30th December 2015|
Christmas racing review: Cheltenham Festival market movers
After a busy Christmas period of top-class action at Kempton, Leopardstown and Newbury, Coral take a look at some of the key performances and the impact they have had on the ante post markets for the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.
Barters Hill looks all class in Challow Hurdle romp
The Ben Pauling trained five-year-old, winner of a Grade 2 bumper at Aintree in April, was first off the bridle but responded well to pressure to storm clear and beat Politologue by 12 lengths.
It was a most taking performance, and Pauling is edging towards a crack at the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival with his stable star.
He said: “He will have an entry in the Neptune, as well as the Albert Bartlett, and if it came up soft, the Neptune might be enough of a test. I’m leaning towards the Albert Bartlett and I think it will take a good one to beat him.”
Barters Hill is now clear 7/2 favourite (from 7s) for the Albert Bartlett, and a 10/1 shot for the Neptune Novices' Hurdle.
No More Heroes completes hat-trick in style
No More Heroes maintained his unbeaten record over fences with a stunning performance in the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown and is now 3/1 favourite (from 4s) for the 2016 RSA Chase.
The Gordon Elliott trained gelding put in a spectacular round of jumping before pulling clear after the last to easily beat Rule The World by nine lengths.
It was a display of pure class that was impossible to knock, and winning jockey Bryan Cooper said that No More Heroes was as good as any he has ridden with regards to his jumping.
Elliott said that No More Heroes would be entered in the JLT, RSA and the four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival, but the RSA looks the ideal and obvious race for the Gigginstown House Stud owned six-year-old.
Nichols Canyon flies high in Ryanair Hurdle
The Willie Mullins trained gelding looked beat when Identity Thief cruised into the lead approaching the last, but jockey Ruby Walsh threw the proverbial kitchen sink at Nichols Canyon and he rallied gamely on the run-in to get back up close home and win going away by two lengths.
It was a sixth Grade 1 success from just nine starts over hurdles for Nichols Canyon, and Mullins said: “His battling qualities and his hurdling qualities remind me of Hurricane Fly, and the size of him. He probably hasn’t the zip of Hurricane Fly – the speed – but he has his stamina and aggressiveness.”
Don Poli delivers in Lexus Chase battle
The odds-on 4/6 favourite, an impressive winner of last season’s RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, was pushed all the way to the line but found plenty for Bryan Cooper’s urgings to score by 1/2 a length.
Although not impressive, Don Poli is the type of horse that only does enough to get the job done and clearly relishes a battle.
Those attributes will stand him in good stead in the Gold Cup, and the Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding looks the ideal candidate for the 2016 renewal of chasing’s blue ribbon event.
Six-year-old Don Poli is currently Coral’s 5/1 joint-second favourite for the showpiece contest on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival.
Sprinter Sacre blooms in Desert Orchid Chase
Sprinter Sacre continued his resurgence with a thrilling win over Sire De Grugy in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton, and is now 4/1 second favourite (from 9/2) to recapture his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown.
It was a fine effort, and showed that Sprinter Scare had battling qualities as well as a high cruising speed.
He may not be as good as he was in his pomp, but it was a display which showed that the horse dubbed “the Black Aeroplane” retained plenty of ability and would be a major player in the Queen Mother come next March.
Cue Card triumphs in cracking King George
It was fourth time lucky for Cue Card in the Grade 1 contest, and he will now head straight to the Gold Cup without another run.
Don Cossack crashed out of the contest two from home when staying on and looking to hold every chance, and Gordon Elliott’s gelding remains a 5/1 chance for the Gold Cup.
Faugheen back to his fabulous best
After racing sweetly at the head of affairs under a confident Ruby Walsh, Faugheen flew the last two flights and quickly put the race to bed with an instant change of gear to win easing down by seven lengths from The New One.
Mullins said: “He did it well, did everything right and I’m very pleased with him. He jumped well. I don’t know where next, it could be straight to Cheltenham, as that would work for me. It was maybe tactics at Punchestown, as Ruby didn’t want to get into a battle.”
Douvan dazzles in Racing Post Novice Chase
Only four went to post for the Grade 1 feature, but from flag fall there was only ever going to be one winner.
This Mullins five-year-old jumped fast and accurate for most of the contest, and despite a small mistake at the last cruised clear on the run-in to score by 18 lengths.
Douvan was eased to a walk near the line, and it was a devastating display of speed and power.
Having been available at 6/4 for the Arkle before the race, Coral cut him to even money but that was quickly snapped up and Douvan is now a rock solid 4/5 favourite for the 2m contest next March.