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Cheltenham Festival 2015 movers and shakers

Cheltenham’s prestigious Open meeting through up plenty of potential contenders for next year’s Festival, and Uxizandre looks a major player for the Ryanair Chase following a stunning success in the Shloer Chase.

Here’s my thought’s on Alan King’s chaser and other horses that caught my eye at a fantastic three-day meeting:

Uxizandre: Top class novice last season who finished second to Taquin De Seuil in the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Festival before winning the Grade 1 Pinsent Masons Manifesto Chase at Aintree. Badly needed comeback run and looked the real deal when landing the Shloer Chase in the hands of Barry Geraghty. The JP McManus owned gelding put in a spectacular round of jumping to lead all the way and beat the 161-rated Simply Ned by a cosy 1 3/4 lengths. The six-year-old looks a contender for the Champion Chase or Ryanair judged on that effort. The latter looking the easier and more suitable option.
Coral latest odds: Ryanair Chase – 10/1 fav (from 16s)

Hargam: Had useful form on the level in France when trained by Alain De Royer Dupre and put in a highly promising run on debut over hurdles for Nicky Henderson when a 3/4 length runner-up to Golden Doyen in the Triumph Hurdle Trial. The three-year-old travelled strongly throughout the contest but was a bit slow at a couple of hurdles and got worried out of it close home. However, it was a highly encouraging effort against a race fit rival who had hurdling experience in what looked a hot contest on paper. Hargham looks open to significant improvement and I will be surprised if he doesn’t turn out to be better than the winner. Given Henderson’s terrific record in the Triumph Hurdle I can see him becoming a leading contender for that contest.

Coral latest odds: Triumph Hurdle – 14/1 fav (unchanged)

Kings Palace: David Pipe trained gelding who looked an exciting propect when winning his first three starts over hurdles last season and was highly-touted as a potential superstar over fences before making a winning debut over the larger obstacles in the Cheltenham Club Novices’ Chase. The six-year-old jumped well throughout and after cruising clear three from home only had to be nudged out to beat Sausalito Sunrise by a comfortable four lengths. Looks a natural over fences judged on the manner of that success and the RSA at the Festival looks an obvious target.

Latest Coral Odds: RSA Chase – 10/1 (from 14s)

Vaniteux: Top class novice last season when winning twice and finishing a fine third to Vautour in the Supreme Novice Hurdle on just his fourth start. Had to shoulder top weight of 11st 12lb in the Greatwood Hurdle, but ran an absolute stormer to finish runner-up to Garde La Victoire in very testing conditions. The Nicky Henderson trained five-year-old travelled like a class act throughout the contest before going down by just 1 1/4 lengths, and is sure to appreciate better ground. Connections were more than happy with the performance, and with the prospect of plenty more improvement to come I can see the Vaniteux making up into a live Champion Hurdle contender come next March.

Coral latest odds: Champion Hurdle – 20/1 (from 25s)