The Betting.Betfair star duo of Paul Nicholls and Gordon Elliott, as well as Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins, look to have exciting Festival prospects following this weekend's racing action
"Footpad had a beautiful round of jumping in the Beginners chase at Navan and easily won from Brelade in second. Willie Mullins said afterwards "we'll try to make an Arkle horse out of him" and he can be backed at [11.0] to do just that."
The flat season came to an end yesterday, and that only means one thing - all sights are set on Prestbury Park. The planning begins and come March the atmosphere will be electric. With this in mind, some of the leading fancies were out to make a name for themselves and stake their Cheltenham claims with some impressive early performance. We will take a brief look at this weekends action.
Has Mullins unveiled his Next Festival winner?
The Willie Mullins-trained Next Destination defied a market drift in a Maiden Hurdle at Naas and showed some useful horses a clean pair of heels to bolt up by 13 lengths. Fancy prices for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle were quickly taken and he now trades as second favourite at [14.0] behind the well-touted Samcro. This is a race that Mullins is trying to win for the fifth time and we can expect Next Destination to follow a similar route to recent winners Faugheen and Yorkhill.
Modus makes his JLT case
Paul Nicholls continued his dominance of the Rising Star Novices Chase at Wincanton winning it for the eighth time in impressive style with the useful Modus. Only three went to post but the JP McManus Novice stamped his class in the later stages of the race to pull clear by nine lengths. Modus now trades at [20.0] for the JLT Novices Chase and it will be interesting to see how he fares against home contenders Finians Oscar and Yanworth over the coming months.
Apple's Jade a short price for Mares' glory
Moving onto Sunday's action, where we saw the reappearance of Apple's Jade in the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle at Navan. Gordon Elliot though filly made all the running and easily held off the challenge of Jers Girl after the last under the impressive Jack Kennedy. She led start to finish and deserves a lot of respect heading into the winter months. Apple's Jade now trades at [3.4] from [4.0] to win the Mares' Hurdle.
Footpad take a big step in Arkle betting
An hour later we saw a very special performance from Footpad in the Beginners chase. The Willie Mullins-trained gelding had a beautiful round of jumping and easily won from Brelade in second. Willie Mullins said afterwards "we'll try to make an Arkle horse out of him" and he can be backed at [11.0] to do just that.
Henderson Might just have a Gold Cup winner
Moving across the pond we witnessed another good display from Might Bite at Sandown. This gelding jumped brilliantly in the hands of Nico de Boinville for Nicky Henderson, and the future is bright. After his heroics coming up the hill at Cheltenham last March, Henderson will no doubt be wanting a crack at the Gold Cup this year. Might Bite can be backed at [9.4] from [11.0] for the Gold Cup.