Road to Cheltenham: Kemboy and Champ on the right path over Xmas

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A busy Christmas and New Year period has produced more than its fair share of market movers where the 2019 Cheltenham Festival is concerned.

From the Gold Cup, to the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and an open looking Arkle Chase, we’ve rounded it all up in our Road to Cheltenham.

Elixir De Nutz – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – 10/1

Nicky Henderson has plenty of exciting novice hurdlers on his hands. So it was no surprise to see Rathhill sent off as favourite for the Tolworth Hurdle last Saturday.

What was a surprise, though, was the ease at which the jolly was beaten. Elixir De Nutz finished over 11l ahead of the main fancy to seal his place as joint-third favourite for the Supreme.

That was good news for our tips column. And it could be good news for punters. Each of the Tolworth’s last three winners have gone on to taste success at Cheltenham in the same season.

Battleoverdoyen and Champ – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

We’re getting giddy over a potential battle between Henderson and Willie Mullins in the Ballymore, with Battleoverdoyen and Champ both showing electric form over Christmas.

The former is now 13/2 for the 2m 5f contest after completing a hat-trick under Rules at Naas over the weekend. But Champ looks a formidable opponent and remains the favourite.

Henderson’s star – named after champion jockey AP McCoy – jumped strongly in the Challow Novices’ Hurdle before showing a superb turn of pace to claim a maiden Grade 1 win.

He’s the 5/1 favourite for the Ballymore, in from 10/1 a fortnight ago.

Kemboy – Gold Cup – 6/1

We didn’t even have a price on Kemboy for the Gold Cup a fortnight ago. Now he’s the 6/1 third-favourite. Could the seven-year-old really come from nowhere to land the blue ribbon event?

It’s not out of the question. Kemboy’s performance to claim the Savills Chase by over 7l is as taking as anything we’ve seen in a season where the big guns have all failed to fire.

Indeed, Might Bite won’t be seen again until the big day after two disappointing runs. He’s now 16/1. Native River remains at 5/1, while Waiting Patiently is out at 25/1.

Clan Des Obeaux put his name into the hat with an unexpected win in the King George. The raider is now 8/1, with recent Tramore winner Al Boum Photo the pick of the outsiders at 14s.

Buveur D’Air – Champion Hurdle – 11/8

Buveur D’Air looked bulletproof at the top of the Champion Hurdle market. But defeat at Kempton over Christmas, coupled with Laurina’s win at Sandown, has changed all that.

The two-time winner remains the 11/8 favourite for the event. And while he’s more than capable of bouncing back from defeat, the eight-year-old is no longer as infallible as he once seemed.

Laurina is the obvious favourite to capitalise on that after her reappearance at the weekend, with Mullins expected to get one more run into the 4/1 shot before the Festival in March.

Dynamite Dollars – Arkle Chase – 6/1

Pick a number and throw a dart at a dartboard and you might just find the winner of the 2019 Arkle – if you’re lucky. Plenty are laying down claims, but there’s no outright favourite.

Amy Murphy and Kalashnikov looked the pick of the bunch. A narrow defeat to Dynamite Dollars in the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase has seen him edged out slightly to 5/1.

The winner that day has also reversed form with previous conqueror and Arkle favourite Lalor – also 5/1 – and could be the most consistent sort in the race at 6/1.

Click here for all our 2019 Cheltenham Festival odds.

All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication

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Nick Murphy

Nick is a graduate of the UEA where he doubled up as the sports editor of the student newspaper. He supports Dagenham & Redbridge and previously edited the matchday programme at Victoria Road. Darts and Horse Racing are among his other favourite sports.