Cheltenham Festival 2015 movers and shakers
Hargam enhanced his Triumph Hurdle claims with a smooth success at Musselburgh and Hidden Cyclone emerged as a live outsider for the Queen Mother Champion Chase in a busy weekend of action which had an impact on the ante post markets for the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Here’s my round-up of the latest movers and shakers for the four-day spectacular which gets underway on Tuesday, March 10th:
Hargham: Made it two out of three over hurdles when running out the facile winner of the JCB Triumph Hurdle trial at Musselburgh. The Nicky Henderson trained gelding travelled strongly throughout in the hands of AP McCoy and cruised clear to beat a well-regarded sort in Starchitect by six lengths. Hargham could not have done the job more easily and looks a major contender to give Henderson, who also trains the current ante post Triumph Hurdle favourite Peace And Co, his sixth winner of the 2m juvenile contest at the Cheltenham Festival on Friday, March 13th.
Coral latest odds: Triumph Hurdle – 8/1 (from 10s)
Hidden Cyclone: Booked hie ticket for a crack at the Queen Mother Champion Chase with an authoritative display in the Grade 2 Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown. Shark Hanlon’s gelding made all to register his first success since September 2013 after settling much better than usual and putting in some prestigious leaps. The 10-year-old is yet to win in Grade 1 company, but has finished second four times in it – including in last year’s Ryanair Chase over 2m 5f at the Festival. Will appreciate the likely strong gallop in the Queen Mother and holds each-way claims on the pick of his form if he can build on his latest success.
Coral latest odds: Queen Mother Champion Chase – 14/1 (from 20s)
Gitane Du Berlais: Made it two out of two over fences when running out the impressive winner on an incident packed Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown. The Willie Mullins trained mare made all and readily pulled clear to beat Irish Saint by eight lengths and looks to have a huge engine judged on the way she tanked along throughout the Grade 1 2m 4f contest. The County Carlow handler said post race that the five-year-old may miss Cheltenham in favour of a trip to Aintree, but she would have to be considered a big player in the JLT Novices’ Chase if allowed to take her chance alongside the stable’s number one hope Vautour.
Coral latest odds: JLT Novices’ Chase – 12/1 (from 33s)
Jollyallan: Suffered his first defeat in four starts over hurdles when going down by 1/2 a length to Garde La Victoire in a Listed contest at Sandown. However, the winner is a very useful sort and it was a solid run from the six-year-old on bottomless ground which was far from ideal and the front two pulled eight lengths clear of a well regarded sot in Bristol De Mai. The Harry Fry trained gelding is a really likeable type who should have even more to offer, but will need to improve again if he is to beat the likes of Douvan and L’ami Serge in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle which opens proceedings at the Festival.
Coral latest odds: Supreme Novices Hurdle – 16/1 (unchanged)