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Eye On Cheltenham – Buveur D’Air and Apple’s Jade the main movers after bumper weekend of racing

Jonathan Vine in News 5 Dec 2018
Buveur D'Air scoots clear of his rivals to win the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle.

We bring you the latest developments in the markets for the 2019 Cheltenham Festival after a fantastic weekend of racing at Newbury, Newcastle and Fairyhouse.

On a weekend that many described as “the best of the season so far”, most of the headlines were made at Newcastle, where punters enjoyed a seismic showdown between three Champion Hurdle contenders. Buveur D’Air made his first appearance of the season, but faced the toughest challenge of his hurdling career, with Supreme winner, Summerville Boy and Ballymore champion, Samcro lining up in opposition.

After flopping on his reappearance, many were predicting Samcro would go out and turn the Fighting Fifth Hurdle into a strong test of stamina. Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy seemed to have a different idea, setting a fairly sedate pace at the head of the field before making their move on the run for home. 

Buveur D’Air, who went off as the second-favourite, was much slicker over his hurdles than any of his four rivals, effortlessly pulling up alongside Samcro on the run to the final flight. Even a significant error at the last wasn’t enough to deny Nicky Henderson’s charge victory and Buveur D’Air put his younger rivals well-and-truly in their place with a dominant, eight-length triumph.

In the immediate aftermath of the race, bookmakers across the boards slashed Buveur D’Air’s Cheltenham odds, with most listing him as the even-money favourite to make it three Festival wins in a row. Samcro and Summerville Boy both drifted in the Champion Hurdle betting, with BetVictor quoting fresh odds of 9/1 and 20/1 respectively. BetVictor were, however, amongst the many bookies to enter Samcro in the Stayers’ Hurdle betting, listing Gordon Elliott’s star as the new 8/1 second-favourite.

Newbury garnered plenty of attention on Saturday, as they staged a disappointingly weak renewal of the Ladbrokes Trophy. Sizing Tennessee produced a flawless round of jumping to claim the victory, with Elegant Escape staying on nicely to claim second ahead of Dingo Dollar and a 1-2 in that historic handicap for Colin Tizzard. As expected, the race had very little effect on the Cheltenham betting, with William Hill entering Sizing Tennessee as a 25/1 outsider in the Gold Cup betting.

Santini was the big eye-catcher on Newbury’s card, as Nicky Henderson’s charge shined on his chasing debut to claim the Grade Two John Francombe Novices’ Chase. Already prominent in the betting for the RSA, Santini was made the even-firmer favourite by every bookmaker, with Paddy Power cutting his odds in from 6s to 3/1.

Posh Trish stormed clear of Lust For Glory to win the opening Mares’ Listed contest on the card and Paul Nicholls’ charge was installed as a 12/1 shot in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle betting by Ladbrokes. Despite looking extremely green throughout, Champ secured an excellent victory in the Ladbrokes’ Handicap Hurdle, and Nicky Henderson’s novice was pushed to the head of the betting for the Ballymore, with Paddy Power pulling the JP McManus-owned gelding in from 33s to 10/1 favouritism.

La Bague Au Roi was the star performer on the first day of the Ladbrokes Trophy meeting, with BetVictor entering Warren Greatrex’s mare into the JLT betting after her victory in the Berkshire Novices’ Chase. Unibet clipped Unowhatimeanharry’s Stayers’ Hurdle odds into 20/1 after Harry Fry’s charge regained the Long Distance Hurdle, while Tom Lacey’s Kateson had his odds in the Ballymore halved by Paddy Power after carrying a penalty to victory at Newbury.
Away from British shores, Fairyhouse staged their popular Bar One Racing weekend and, for the third year in a row, it was Apple’s Jade who stole the show. Gordon Elliott’s mare was the 4/7 favourite as she set on in pursuit of her third Hatton’s Grace Hurdle crown and the Gigginstown-owned mare made mincemeat of her rivals, powering clear of Supasundae to record a commanding 20-length victory.

Apple’s Jade wasn’t at her best last spring, losing out to Benie Des Dieux at Cheltenham and Punchestown. After looking in better shape than ever when claiming her Hatton’s Grace hat-trick, bookmakers in unison made Apple’s Jade the new favourite for the Mares’ Hurdle. BetVictor currently offer the best price on 2/1, as William Hill also chose to slash Apple’s Jade’s odds in the Stayers’ Hurdle betting, offering a fresh price of 5/1.

There were plenty of Cheltenham Festival market movers at Fairyhouse on Sunday, with Delta Work making a significant charge after beating Le Richebourg in the Grade One Drinmore Novices' Chase. Last year’s Pertemps Final winner had his odds for the JLT and the National Hunt Chase slashed, but the most significant support came in the betting for the three-mile RSA, with William Hill having to cut their price three times during the course of the afternoon, as punters pushed Delta Work into 8/1 from 20s.

Quick Grabim got the better of his fellow novices to win then Royal Bond, with Ruby Walsh’s mount staying on well to secure a four-length triumph. As Willie Mullins’ winner was pushed into 16/1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle by Coral, Commander Of Fleet – who finished last of the four runners – slipped down to 25/1 in the betting for the Ballymore.

Chief Justice upset Coeur Sublime in the opening juvenile race on the card, earning himself quotes of 33/1 in the Triumph Hurdle betting. Another Cheveley Park-owned youngster making waves in the Festival betting was Envoi Allen, who moved into 7/1 second-favouritism in the Champion Bumper betting after a winning debut in the card-closing flat race.

All eyes were on Kalashnikov on Monday, as Amy Murphy’s stable star made his second start over fences at Plumpton. The 1/7 favourite was barely troubled when securing a lengthy triumph and Ladbrokes were quick to react, listing last year’s Supreme runner-up as the joint 9/2 favourite for the Arkle.

Another mover in the Arkle betting was Menghli Khan, who cruised to victory on his chasing debut on Wednesday with Davy Russell statuesque in the saddle. Gordon Elliott’s charge now sits just behind Kalashnikov on odds of 7/1 and it’ll be up to Lalor – who runs in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown this weekend – to prove he is the most promising chaser in this year’s crop of talented novices. 

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Eye On Cheltenham – Buveur D’Air and Apple’s Jade the main movers after bumper weekend of racing

We bring you the latest developments in the markets for the 2019 Cheltenham Festival after a fantastic weekend of racing at Newbury, Newcastle and Fairyhouse.

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