Road to Cheltenham: Gold Cup shake-up, Bourgeois turns heads
Last weekend’s packed racing programme threw-up plenty more Cheltenham Festival pointers from across both sides of the Irish Sea.
And with just three weeks to go until we hear the famous roar it won’t be long before we see whether the opinions we’ve formed throughout the winter will prove to be well-founded or ill-judged!
As for this latest set of storylines, the Gold Cup picture has certainly taken a shocking twist following the shock omission of Thistlecrack owing to injury.
Before that news broke, Cue Card put himself firmly back into contention (was he ever out of it?) following his Ascot Chase romp. And elsewhere, there was also joy for connections of another old-timer in the Rendlesham Chase.
Whether we’ll see Zarkandar at Prestbury Park this spring remains to be seen but there’s no shortage of other stories to ponder.
Here’s our latest look at the market movers..,
Cue Card routs the field and gets trimmed for Gold Cup success
Barely a week seems to go by without mentioning Colin Tizzard and the crack team he’s assembled for this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The Dorset saddler watched on as Cue Card trounced his Ascot Chase rivals to land a second renewal win last Saturday.
Nobody would argue that the 15 length margin of victory flattered the 11-year-old and as a result of that emphatic success we were forced to trim the Gold Cup third-favourite from 8/1 to 6/1.
However, as previously mentioned, that price has contracted further still following Thistlecrack’s withdrawal with the ever popular horse now just 7/2 to taste victory in the big one.
Yanworth makes hard work of it at Wincanton
Barry Geraghty is adamant the stiffer test of the Old Course at Cheltenham will better suit Yanworth, following a lacklustre victory in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton.
However, with the option of riding either the Somerset winner or Buveur d’Air in this year’s Champion Hurdle, is that a gamble Geraghty should take?
The odds suggest there isn’t much between the pair with Yanworth a 3/1 shot and Buveur d’Air the narrow 11/4 favourite.
However, with the former’s jumping a concern, the prevailing opinion appears to be that there really is only one winner in this particular debate.
Henderson coy over next steps for Beyond Conceit
Nicky Henderson has the option of either the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle for his progressive charge, Beyond Conceit.
The former Flat runner followed-up his Jumps debut success at Newbury by defeating pre-race favourite Topofthegame in the first of Ascot’s seven races on Saturday.
And following that win over 2m3½f, we’ve installed the eight-year-old at 20/1 for the Neptune and 25/1 for the Supreme.
Two B’s and Tombstone shine at Gowran Park
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh enjoyed a quickfire double when combining to full effect at Gowran Park on Saturday.
Bachasson took the spoils in the Beginners Chase over 2m4f and is now a Cheltenham possibility while Ballycasey then did the business in the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase. He’s a 33/1 chance for the Ryanair Chase on the penultimate day of the Festival.
There was also some good news for rival handler Gordon Elliott and returning jockey Bryan Cooper with Tombstone upsetting 2/5 favourite Jezki to land the Red Mills Trial Hurdle.
Tombstone looks set for Aintree rather than Cheltenham while Jezki has lengthened from 9/2 to 8/1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle.
And finally…Acapella divides opinion
The Sandra Hughes-trained Acapella Bourgeois was a stunning winner of the Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan on Sunday but it’s a result that’s prompted plenty of debate.
Many were left perplexed as to why his rivals allowed jockey Roger Loughran to build-up such a sizeable lead in the Grade 2 contest.
However, there have been a few others prepared to come out and back the Cheltenham hopeful and praise the seven-year-old for a spectacular front-running performance.
Whichever side you’re on, the issue will be settled at the Festival with Bourgeois now a 16/1 (was 33/1) shot for the RSA Chase.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of publishing