Road to Cheltenham: John throws himself into Gold Cup frame

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Just when you thought this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup was a relative match between the UK’s top two chasers, an Irish raider goes and throws their hat in the ring.

That was the case last weekend with Sizing John announcing his credentials following a thrilling Irish Gold Cup renewal at Leopardstown.

Robbie Power produced a peach of a ride and let Jessica Harrington’s seven-year-old do the rest when eventually prevailing by three-quarters-of-a-length over Empire of Dirt.

Sizing John wasn’t the only Irish horse to impress over the weekend. And neither was he the only Gold Cup contender to score.

Here’s our look at the latest market movers…

John and River instigate flood of money

Thistlecrack is still the Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite at 6/4 but it’s starting to look a little tighter at the top for the King George winner.

Stablemate Native River was a merciless winner of the Denman Chase at Newbury on Saturday while the aforementioned Sizing John can’t be ignored.

The former has been cut to 4/1 from 6/1 for Gold Cup glory with the latter now a 10/1 shot having been a 66/1 rank outsider at one stage.

Both are now being well-backed by value seekers and those who evidently think the Cotswold Chase runner-up is very opposable at Prestbury Park.

Carter is cut again for Champion Bumper success

Willie Mullins’ Carter McKay went two from two under Rules when landing the lucky last at Naas on Saturday and the result of that has been another hammering of his odds.

Originally entered as a 16/1 shot to land this year’s Champion Bumper, Mullins now has himself another favourite.

Available at 3/1, there’s still some juice left with plenty of punters from both sides of the Irish Sea jumping at the chance to get involved.

Eight-time winning trainer Mullins has farmed the Bumper since its inception in 1992.

  1. However, he’s without a win in the contest since 2013, a trend the venerable handler has a very good chance of reversing.

What now for Bacardys?

While we’re praising Willie, it would be remiss of us not to mention his fifth straight win in the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle.

Indeed, Mullins secured the one-two in the 2m2f contest, although not with the expected challengers.

The 12/1 shot Bacardys came home in front of Bunk Off Early with race favourite Saturnas tailing off in last place.

And as a result the improving winner is now 8/1 for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and the same price for the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle.

Mullins has said the former is his charge’s intended target although it might be wise to take a ‘wait and see’ approach.

Ballyandy gets off the mark in handicap company

Last year’s Champion Bumper hero Ballyandy was the hyped-up, well-supported Betfair Hurdle favourite and he didn’t let his backers down.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge saw off Movewiththetimes by just three-quarters-of-a-length at Newbury but in doing so showed he’s all heart.

We make the son of Kayf Tara a 12/1 shot for the Supreme Novices’s Hurdle following his high-profile success.

And finally…Altior

What more needs to be said? Nicky Henderson’s majestic beast turned on the style to land the Game Spirit Chase and in doing so has hardened to 1/3 for the Racing Post Arkle Trophy. Absolute banker material.

Click here for the latest Cheltenham Festival odds.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of publishing

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