Shock results shake up the Cheltenham markets

It was a weekend of upsets in both the UK and Ireland leaving us with plenty to ponder in the Cheltenham Festival antepost markets.

Peace and Co flops but Bristol De Mai shines

At Sandown on Saturday, Peace and Co sought to restore his reputation in the Betfred Contenders Hurdle but the 4/7 favourite again failed to settle and trailed home third of the four runners. The Champion Hurdle is still on the agenda but at a top-priced 33/1 with Sky Bet he looks a forlorn hope against the might of Mullins and his 2/5 favourite Faugheen.

Whilst Peace and Co’s defeat was a huge disappointment for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, they had plenty to smile about as Bristol De Mai landed the Scilly Isles Novice Chase at Sandown and Footpad caused an upset in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Bristol De Mai was the first leg of a quickfire across the card double for trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, who followed up with Blaklion in the totepool Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby. Daryl Jacob made all on the well-backed Bristol De Mai, jumping impressively and staying on strongly at the finish. The JLT is the Festival target for which he is no bigger than 6/1 behind the 5/2 favourite Killultagh Vic.

Blaklion displayed a tremendous attitude to win a competitive renewal of the Towton. This out-and-out stayer lacks the class of Bristol De Mai but he more than makes up for that in bravery and guts. At 12/1 for the RSA, he looks sure to give backers a good run for their money.

Favourites downed at Leopardstown

Footpad’s victory in the opener at Leopardstown caused turmoil in the Triumph Hurdle market with the red-hot favourite, Ivanovich Gorbatov, finishing a well-beaten fourth behind a Willie Mullins 1-2-3. The winner was the least fancied of the Mullins trio at 14/1 but he came with a late run to win in the hands of the trainer’s nephew Danny Mullins. Ivanovich Gorbatov remains favourite for the Triumph but has lengthened to 6/1 from 5/2 whilst Footpad was shortened into 12’s from 33’s.

There wasn’t much joy for favourite backers elsewhere on the Leopardstown card either with Bellshill, On The Fringe and Road To Riches failing to justify cramped odds in their respective races.

Bellshill was sent off the 4/6 favourite for the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle but he trailed in 3 lengths behind Tombstone and 18 lengths behind stablemate Bleu Et Rouge. Following that disappointing run, Yanworth hardened into 11/10 (with Betfair Sportsbook) for the Neptune with several bookies now odds-on for the Alan King-trained inmate. Bellshill hangs on to second favouritism at 10/1 with the bookies divided on their opinion of Bleu Et Rouge who is as short as 8/1 and as big as 16/1 for the 2 mile 4 furlong contest.

On The Fringe had a remarkable campaign last season winning the Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham and following that with victories at Aintree and Punchestown. With Jamie Codd deputising for an injured Nina Carberry, he failed to fire on seasonal debut, finishing well beaten in seventh. He’s sure to come on plenty for the run though and remains a clear favourite at 3/1 to retain his Foxhunters crown at Cheltenham.

The feature race at Leopardstown was the Irish Gold (formerly the Irish Hennessy) where Road To Riches went to post as the 5/4 favourite with Valseur Lido next in the betting at 5/1. The jolly raced prominently but it was Valseur Lido who travelled up strongly from three out only to unseat Ruby Walsh at the final fence. Road To Riches failed to take advantage of the mishap with last year’s winner, Carlingford Lough, coming from last to first to win at 20/1 (matched at 999/1 in running) under Mark Walsh. He shortened into 33/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup with both Road To Riches and Valseur Lido available to back at 20’s.

Double for Henderson at Musselburgh

After a shock-filled Saturday, attentions moved to Scotland on Sunday with Musselburgh staging their Festival Trials meeting. Nicky Henderson is a good supporter of this fixture and his 00 Seven took the Albert Bartlett trial under Andrew Tinkler. The Neptune is his more likely target, though, for which he trades at between 20 and 33/1. Cup Final made it a double for the Henderson team winning the Pertemps Qualifier as the well-backed 11/8 favourite. He’s now the 10/1 co-favourite to win the Final at Cheltenham.

Decent flat racer, Shrewd, proved a shrewd investment in the Scottish County Hurdle, coming home in front at 5/1 for 5lb claimer Shane Shortfall. His trainer Iain Jardine reported that Cheltenham may not suit the horse and that they may look to the valuable consolation race at Kempton instead.

Point-To-Point frustration for Pendleton

In other news, Victoria Pendleton is still awaiting her first winner after her mount at Wadebridge, Working Title, almost pulled himself up whilst leading the ladies’ open. Having been 15 lengths clear at one stage, it looked as though the former gold-medal winning cyclist might break her duck in the point-to-point field but having surrendered their advantage, the horse was eventually pulled up. With the Festival just five weeks away, only the most optimistic punters will be taking Betfair Sportsbook’s 25/1 that she wins the Foxhunters Chase.

Looking Ahead

Next Saturday, Newbury hosts their Betfair Hurdle meeting and the sponsors are already offering five places on each-way bets placed on the sportsbook. Modus and War Sound start the week as the 6/1 joint favourites.

Posted: Monday, 8th February 2016
Author: Paul Dunn
Tags: Betfair

Archive - Previous 5 Horse-racing Articles

Blaklion Likely To Start Favourite For Wetherby Race Expect Native River To Pour On The Pressure In Towton Novices Chase Betting
Blaklion Likely To Start Favourite For Wetherby Race
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Valseur Lido Could Be An Each Way Bet Irish Gold Cup Odds Riches The One To Beat At Leopardstown
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Thistlecrack Looks The Real Deal After Cleeve Hurdle Romp Smad cements Place in Gold Cup picture after sparkling Cheltenham win
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Sam Winner Can Outrun Lofty Odds On Festival Trials Day Djakadam a hot favourite for BetBright Trial Chase at Cheltenham
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