Lexus Chase shakes up two Cheltenham markets but not Gold Cup

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The Lexus Chase is supposed to be the leading Irish trial each season for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but the result of the latest race has had a greater impact on two other Festival renewals.

Paul Nicholls’ Tidal Bay upset the Irish applecart with his success in the final strides and he has regularly been found second best on English soil.

This has hinted that the Irish Cheltenham Gold Cup challenge may not be as strong as first thought, with Lexus runner-up First Lieutenant 12/1 and fourth-placed Sir Des Champs 7/1.

The price for the latter may still be worthy of consideration based on the fact he definitely stays and put in a poor round of jumping at Leopardstown.

Any improvement in this department should see Sir Des Champs at least finish in the each-way places at Cheltenham.

However, for Tidal Bay, Nicholls has stated that the horse will return to hurdles at Cheltenham and be his leading contender in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, given that Big Buck’s has been ruled out injured.

He is 8/1 to win the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and much will hinge on whether ante-post favourite Quevega appears or settles for her usual engagement of the David Nicholson Fillies’ and Mares Hurdle.

Ruby Walsh has ridden Tidal Bay five times and finished in the top two on four of these occasions, but he will almost certainly be on board Quevega if the pair clash.

Flemenstar finished third in the Lexus and the race found out his already-suspect stamina.

He was ridden more patiently than normal but still failed to see out the 3m trip, which suggests he has little chance over 3m2f at Cheltenham in the Gold Cup, especially given an expected faster pace.

Therefore, the Ryanair Chase over 2m4f clearly looks more appealing now despite the reduced prize money and he has been installed as the 3/1 favourite to win this.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.