Cheltenham Festival 2021 Market Movers – Horses Backed for Festival Glory

2020 Chelltenham Festival day two tips main image

The runners scale a fence in the Cross Country on day two at the Cheltenham Festival.


Royal Pagaille emerged as a possible Cheltenham Gold Cup contender when coasting to an easy victory in the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase at Haydock on Saturday. Venetia Williams had given the seven-year-old a tentative entry for the Gold Cup after he won at Kempton over Christmas.

He was raised 16ls to a mark of 156 at Haydock but is certain to face another big hike in the weights. That would put him within a few pounds of the very best but Williams has yet to commit to the Cheltenham feature event. The gelding is unlikely to run in the RSA Chase where his owner already has hot favourite Monkfish but the National Hunt Chase could yet come into the equation. The going is key because Royal Pagaille is yet to race on ground faster than soft.

Bookmaker reaction was to cut Royal Pagaille into 12-1 with Bet365 and 8-1 (non-runner – no bet) with Betfair and Betfred. If he takes the National Hunt Chase route, he is 5-1 with Bet365 but only 3-1 with a run with Betfair and Paddy Power.

Nicky HenTrainer Ncky Henderson will be hoping Buveur D'Air improves for comeback at Haydock derson Cheltenham Questions

Trainer Ncky Henderson will be hoping Buveur D’Air improves for comeback at Haydock

Nicky Henderson’s Buveur D’Air returned from a 420-day absence in the Champion Hurdle Trial. The dual Champion Hurdler travelled well in behind Navajo Pass in the three-runner field but fitness told in the closing stages and he was well held on the run-in. Henderson is confident that he will improve considerably on that effort at Cheltenham and he is now 20-1 with a run with Paddy Power and Betfair.

The feature race at Ascot on Saturday was the Clarence House Chase which was expected to be fought out by Politologue and Waiting Patiently. However, First Flow had not read the script and outjumped Politologue before striding clear to win by 7 lengths. It was his sixth consecutive victory, all achieved on soft or heavy ground. First Flow is 12-1 with a run with Paddy Power while reigning Champion Politologue was eased to 8-1 by the same firm. 

Roksana remains on course for the Stayers’ Hurdle after winning the Mares’ Hurdle at Ascot with plenty to spare. She paid a compliment to her Long Walk Hurdle conquerors in the process, Paisley Park and Thyme Hill. Tritonic entered the Triumph Hurdle picture with a winning debut for Alan King. He was rated 99 on the flat and put that speed to good use to run down Casa Loupi on the run-in. Roksana is 14-1 with Bet365 for the Stayers with Tritonic available at the same price for the Triumph.

There were also a couple of eye-catching handicappers for the Cheltenham notebook at Ascot. Nicky Henderson’s Craigneiche was surprisingly allowed to start at 14-1 for the Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle. He was presumably expected to be a bit rusty after a 375-day absence but he stayed on strongly to win by 7 lengths. That run had Coral Cup ridden all over it and he is priced at 16-1 (non-runner – no bet) with Paddy Power and Betfair.

The other horse for the notebook is Jerrysback, a staying-on third to Dashel Drasher in the Bet365 Handicap Chase. He has never quite fulfilled the promise of his novice chase form but looks to be back to his best and can exploit a mark of 142. He earned quotes of 14-1 for the Ultima Handicap Chase and 16-1 for the Kim Muir Challenge Cup.