Road to Cheltenham: Samcro and Footpad lengthen; Apple’s Jade comes in

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The return of the jumps season already has us casting envious eyes towards the 2019 Cheltenham Festival ante-post markets.

And not ones to wait about, we’re already on the Road to Cheltenham with our first weekly look at the ante-post movers and shakers.

Mares’ Hurdle – Apple’s Jade – 7/2 from 5/1

There’s no shortage of big names vying at the top of the market for the 2019 Mares’ Hurdle. And on Sunday’s evidence at Navan, Apple’s Jade should be right in the mix once again.

Gordon Elliott’s six-year-old made all on her seasonal reappearance to take the Lismullen Hurdle for the second straight year. That victory has shortened her odds at the top of the market.

Champion Hurdle – Samcro – 4/1 from 5/2

Samcro’s return to action at Down Royal last week didn’t quite go to plan. The Gigginstown hotpot went off as the 4/9 favourite but could only manage a second place finish behind 12/1 shot Bedrock.

The six-year-old failed to quicken on the run for home and ultimately fell to her second defeat in as many races. There’s still a long way to go to iron out any kinks before the Cheltenham Festival.

But his odds for the Champion Hurdle have lengthened from 5/2 to 4/1 as a result.

Champion Chase – Footpad – 9/2 from 7/2

If Samcro’s reappearance was disappointing, Footpad’s was just worrying. Last season’s unbeaten chaser couldn’t find any sort of rhythm before falling at the last at Naas.

Willie Mullins’ star clipped a number of fences on the way round, with the trainer putting the performance down to an overreach. Nevertheless, his Champion Chase odds have been pushed out.

Last season’s Arkle Chase winner is now 9/2 from 7/2 to usurp 11/8 favourite Altior.

Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle – Epatante – 10/1 from 25/1

Nicky Henderson might well have picked up a good thing in Epatante. The four-year-old French recruit produced a taking effort for her new yard at Kempton to score by just over 3l.

The daughter of No Risk At All jumped fluently before exerting an excellent change of pace to land the 2m contest.

That run has caught the attention of our traders, who now have her as 8/1 joint-favourite for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle. A price she shares with one of our horses to watch, Relegate.

Champion Chase – Saint Calvados – 12/1 from 25/1

Footpad’s surprise defeat in the Poplar Square Chase left the door open for Saint Calvados. And Harry Whittington’s gelding needed no second invitation.

February’s Kingmaker Novices’ Chase winner made all at Naas to score for his third seasonal reappearance in a row. A tuned up Footpad is still likely to get the better of him.

But our traders have still seen fit to cut his Champion Chase odds into 12/1 from 25/1.

Click here for all our 2019 Cheltenham Festival odds.

All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication

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