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Eye on Cheltenham – Samcro backed into Champion Hurdle favouritism as Gigginstown makes waves in Festival markets

Jack Kennedy riding Samcro to victory in The Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown last season.

We bring you the latest betting developments in the 2019 Cheltenham Festival markets after Cheltenham’s Showcase Meeting and some breaking news that excited the entire jumps racing world.


Gordon Elliott and his Gigginstown partners had been umming and ahhing as to which direction they would take Samcro down this term. There’s no doubting Elliott’s equine wunderkind is built for chasing, but during a recent stable tour, the man from County Meath revealed the race he would love to win more than any other this season would be the Champion Hurdle.

So, it was little surprise to hear over the weekend that Samcro would indeed be kept over hurdles this season, with the aim of becoming Gigginstown's first Champion Hurdler. Two-time winner, Buveur D’Air had sat happily atop the betting during the off-season, but a wave of support for Samcro pushed last year’s Ballymore winner to the summit.

Samcro’s price in the Arkle, JLT and RSA drifted as Coral slashed Elliott’s charge into 5/2 favouritism for the Champion Hurdle. William Hill and Paddy Power are both currently offering the best price, listing Samcro at 11/4 as he begins his quest to dethrone Buveur D’Air and claim a second Cheltenham Festival crown.

While all that was happening off the track, Samcro’s Gigginstown stablemates were being sent to the Showcase Meeting at Cheltenham and to Galway to plunder some early-season prizes. The one who impressed the most in those famous silks over the weekend was Dinons, who was handed a fresh price of 25/1 by William Hill in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle betting after trouncing his rivals in a three mile contest at Cheltenham.

Blow By Blow was the runaway winner of the Martin Pipe last season and he kicked off life over fences with a convincing 17 length triumph at Galway. He leapt ahead of stablemate Cracking Smart at the top of the betting for the National Hunt Challenge Cup, with Paddy Power cutting his price in from 25s to 14/1.

Another convincing winner at Galway was Felix Desjy, who cruised to a ten length triumph in Saturday’s opening novice contest. Elliott’s charge was clipped into 16/1 to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle by Paddy Power, with Coral offering odds of 25/1 in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

Lil Rockerfeller leaps the last en route to winning The Matchbook Time To Move Over Novices Chase at Cheltenham.


Not wanting to be outshone by their Irish counterparts, there were some eye-catching performances from British horses over the weekend. Olly Murphy celebrated a maiden victory around Cheltenham as Thomas Darby powered to a hugely impressive win on his hurdling debut and Coral were the quickest to react, entering Murphy’s youngster into the betting for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle on a price of 25/1.

Lil Rockerfeller survived several scares to preserve his unbeaten record over fences, eventually securing a convincing victory over three miles at Prestbury Park. Such was the unimpressive nature of his jumping, however, that most bookmakers remained unmoved in the betting, with Ladbrokes listing Neil King’s lovable gelding as a 33/1 shot in the RSA Novices’ Chase.

Another to maintain a 100% record as a chaser was Diakali, who was left to canter over the line at Cheltenham as One For Billy ran out of the track when mounting what looked like being a winning challenge after the final fence. While Ladbrokes installed Diakali as a 25/1 shot in the betting for the Arkle Challenge Cup, incidents at Cheltenham that day got the National Hunt racing world talking.

Later in the card, Oighear Dubh – on course for a lengthy victory in the Amateur Riders’ Handicap – ran out of the course in the exact same place where One For Billy had exited proceedings. Cheltenham course clerk, Chris Stickles added a piece of plastic rail, in place of the tape, for Saturday’s action and there was no repeat of Friday’s drama. However, that didn’t stop you from venting your frustration at Cheltenham and suggesting ways they could solve the problem when next year’s Festival rolls around.

Here are some of the best tweets we received over the weekend…





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Eye on Cheltenham – Samcro backed into Champion Hurdle favouritism as Gigginstown makes waves in Festival markets

We bring you the latest betting developments in the 2019 Cheltenham Festival markets after Cheltenham’s Showcase Meeting and some breaking news that excited the entire jumps racing world on Saturday 27th October.

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