Eye on Cheltenham – Delta, Chacun and Faugheen make waves after Dublin Racing Festival
Eye On Cheltenham – Week 13
We take a look at all the major market movers and developments in the betting for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, after a week which featured the Dublin Racing Festival on Sunday 2nd February.
Once again, drying ground caused a slight issue at the Dublin Racing Festival. Yet, punters were still treated to two tremendous days of action. We have so many Cheltenham Festival betting developments to catch up on. So, let’s jump straight into Saturday’s action.
Leopardstown – Saturday
The first Grade One of this year’s meeting went the way of Latest Exhibition, who held off Cobbler’s Way and Longhouse Poet to win the Nathaniel Lacy and Partners. Paul Nolan’s star was then cut into 8/1 to win the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle with Paddy Power. Cobbler’s Way and Longshouse Poet came into 16s on that back of solid placed efforts. Beaten favourite, Fury Road was pushed out to 14/1 on the back of an error-strewn display.
Chacun Pour Soi then earned rave reviews from Willie Mullins in the Dublin Chase, where he outjumped Min and stayed on to claim a four-length triumph. Mullins’ charge was then clipped into 5/2 from 4/1 in William Hill’s market for the Champion Chase. Having finished a fine second, Min came into 3/1 to win the Ryanair, while A Plus Tard – who was withdrawn when the ground became too good – was also cut into 5/1 from 6s for the Ryanair.
Notebook solidified his position as the ante-post Arkle favourite with another fine display to win the Arkle Trial. Cash Back made Henry De Bromhead’s charge work hard, but Notebook came out on top and Unibet made him the new 3/1 favourite for the Arkle. Cash Back lost nothing in defeat, and he joined Fakir D’Oudairies – another to be withdrawn on account of the ground – on a price of 6/1.
De Bromhead was even more delighted to see Honeysuckle maintain her unbeaten streak in the Irish Champion Hurdle. The firm-favourite was passed by Petit Mouchoir after the last, but showed plenty of guts and stamina to get back up and beat her stablemate over two miles. After the race, De Bromhead refused to confirm whether it would be the Champion Hurdle or the Mares’ Hurdle for Honeysuckle. Understandably, bookies remained virtually unmoved in both races, with Paddy Power offering 11/2 on Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle, and 2/1 in the Mares.
Arguably the most dominant performance on Saturday came in the card-closing bumper, as Appreciate It bolted up to claim a maiden Graded prize. Willie Mullins’ youngster was then installed as the new 9/4 favourite with Unibet for the Champion Bumper, as beaten favourite Erik Bloodaxe drifted right back to 20/1 from 10s.
Leopardstown – Sunday
Aspire Tower was expected to claim a comfortable victory in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle on Sunday. Sadly, Henry De Bromhead’s favourite suffered a heavy fall when joined by rivals jumping the second-last flight. A Wave Of The Sea came through to claim victory, causing Unibet to cut his Triumph Hurdle odds into 16/1. Aspire Tower, the favourite on many boards for the Triumph before the off, drifted out to 8/1.
Another strong favourite then went down in the Chanelle Pharma, as Asterion Forlonge comfortably saw off Easywork to hand Willie Mullins yet another big victory. Mullins’ grey was then pulled into 13/2 from 20s in William Hill’s betting for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, as Easywork drifted out to 25/1.
Then followed the magical moment of this year’s Dublin Racing Festival as Faugheen, at the ripe old age of 12, jumped beautifully and held on to thwart Easy Game in the Flogas Novices’ Chase. Willie Mullins’ star was clipped into 5/1 favouritism for the Marsh Novices’ Chase on the cack of that win, with Easy Game also coming into 10s from 20/1. Battleoverdoyen, who fell when flagging back in fourth, drifted out from 8s to 14/1 in William Hill’s betting for the RSA.
Having watched his rival Willie Mullins get his hands on several Grade Ones throughout the week, Gordon Elliott will have been greatly relieved to see Delta Work do the business in the Irish Gold Cup. All eyes were on Kemboy before the off, but the favourite was powerless to deny Delta Work, who out-jumped and out-stayed his rivals to secure his second big Grade One on the bounce.
Paddy Power then cut Delta Work into 5s from 9/1 to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Kemboy, although he finished second, was pushed out from 11/2 to 7/1 in the Gold Cup betting. Presenting Percy had shaped like the most likely winner turning in but found surprisingly little, a performance which saw Paddy Power push Pat Kelly’s charge out from 10s to 14/1 to win at Cheltenham.
England – Saturday
With the ground coming up much softer at Sandown than Leopardstown, Willie Mullins sent Laurina over to take part in the Scilly Isles Chase. Despite a huge plunge before the off, Nico De Boinville’s mount jumped terribly throughout and simply never got into the race.
As Laurina beat her retreat, Itchy Feet powered up the home straight to hand trainer Olly Murphy his first ever Grade One success. On the back of that, William Hill cut Itchy Feet in from 33s to 7/1 in their betting for the Marsh Novices’ Chase, with Laurina drifting right out to 33s following her second lacklustre display on the bounce.
Call Me Lord was expected to score an easy victory in the Contender’s Hurdle. However, Nicky Henderson’s charge was upstaged by Quel Destin at Sandown, and drifted out to 25/1 in the Champion Hurdle betting as a result. One who made a positive move this weekend was Newtide, who came into 25/1 for the National Hunt Chase after scoring in the Towton Novices’ Chase up at Wetherby.
The top two in the current betting for the Foxhunters Chase then went head to head, and it was former Festival winner and Gold Cup runner-up, Minella Rocco who came out on top. Last year’s Foxhunters winner, Hazel Hill went into their showdown as the favourite, but could only finish a four-length second. Unibet then cut Minella Rocco into 6s from 14/1 to claim his second Cheltenham Festival title, with market-leader Hazel Hill drifting out to 11/2.