|Wednesday 20th November 2013|
Novices Impress at Cheltenham Open Meeting to Stake Festival Claims
The Open Meeting at Cheltenham is considered by many to be the first major horse racing Festival of the season and once again it has lived up to its reputation. We have enjoyed three days of thrilling action at Prestbury Park with a number of horses stepping into the limelight after producing some impressive displays. As always, there were some big movements in some of the ante-post Cheltenham Festival markets.
The Jonjo O’Neill trained runner was conceding a penalty of weight to Oscar Whisky who went off as a warm favourite but after a slow gallop, it was Taquin Du Seuil who won by a neck under a strong drive from AP McCoy. The Festival target for Taquin du Seuil remains up in the air, but the Jewson Novices Chase is the most likely target, for which he was trimmed into 10/1 from 16/1 as a result of this latest win.
Also on Friday afternoon we saw a stellar performance from the ever popular Balthazar King in the Cross Country Chase. The Philip Hobbs horse won the corresponding Festival race in 2012 and is the favourite to repeat that in 2014, following his latest success at Prestbury Park. It was a fine front running performance under a good ride and punters wanting to back him to win the Cross Country Chase at the Festival can now get a best price of just 7/1.
The Greatwood Hurdle was the feature race on Sunday afternoon and we saw a slightly surprise winner in the form of Dell’ Arca. The French recruit was having his first run for David Pipe in Britain but looked very impressive as he held off the more experienced Sametegal in the grade 3 affair. He was clearly unexposed down the bottom of the weights following his arrival from France, but he will surely improve for the run and was installed in the Champion Hurdle betting at 33/1 following his Greatwood success.
There were plenty more Festival clues on offer on day three of the Open Meeting with The Liquidator certainly falling into that category. It was another success for David Pipe, who had a four timer on the card, with The Liquidator winning the Supreme Novices Hurdle Trial as he liked after a fine display. He comfortably dispatched the well fancied Sea Lord in the race and as a consequence The Liquidator was slashed from 20/1 to 14/1 in the betting for the Festival opener in March.