The Road to Cheltenham: Huge plunge on Sprinter Sacre after Open meeting win

Has Faugheen drifted to a backable price for the Champion Hurdle after his first defeat?
Has Faugheen drifted to a backable price for the Champion Hurdle after his first defeat?

Welcome to the first instalment of our new regular column, The Road To Cheltenham, where the Follow The Money team will be assessing the Exchange markets for the festival after the key weekends in the National Hunt calendar. No better place to start than after three cracking days of racing from the Cheltenham Open meeting...

"Sprinter Sacre bounded clear to win by 14 lengths. This had a seismic effect on the Champion Chase ante-post market. Trading at a high of around 29.028/1 pre-race our punters steamed in and a price of 5.59/2 is now available."

Last year's World Hurdle hero More Of That made his racecourse debut over fences in the 13:40 class 2 Novices' Chase over an extended two-and-a-half miles on Friday and emerged a comfortable winner. Jonjo O'Neill's stable star jumped well before being challenged two out, and pulled away to beat As De Mee by two-and-a-half lengths.

He has been all the rage in the RSA Novice Chase ante-post market having traded at as high as 24.023/1. The rumours were that his home schooling had been very pleasing and a pre-race price of around 14.013/1 had been available. Betfair punters liked what they saw after his victory and he now trades at just 7.06/1.


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There were some significant knock on effects to this in our World Hurdle market where More Of That drifted from 12.5 out to 55.054/1 while the likes of Annie Power, Whisper and last year's winner Cole Harden all strengthened off the back of the drift.


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Saturday's opening race was a grade 2 Triumph Hurdle trial over 2m won by the unfancied Wolf Of Windlesham in decent style. He was added to our Triumph Hurdle ante-post market and has been priced at 34.033/1 to back. It may be worth noting that this market is still in its formative stage but we would certainly recommend keeping an eye on what looks a very talented juvenile.


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Sprinter Sacre returned to action on Sunday in the 14:10 Grade 2 chase. His problems over the years have been extremely well documented, but we knew he would have spread-eagled this field if he was anywhere near back to his flying best.

Travelling well throughout, jockey Nico De Boinville was full of confidence and it was clear that at least some of the old exuberance was back, with his jump four from home drawing gasps from an adoring crowd. As it was 'The Black Aeroplane' as he was called in his all-conquering days, bounded clear to win by 14 lengths.

This had a seismic effect on the Champion Chase ante-post market. Trading at a high of around 29.028/1 pre-race our punters steamed in and a price of 5.59/2 is now available. The two-mile chasing division is rock solid this season and that looks plenty short enough for a horse who has had the problems that Sprinter has. It was heartwarming to see but, with head ruling heart, we think a lay of Sprinter Sacre may be the call at this stage.


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In other news, Punchestown welcomed back the previously unbeaten Champion Hurdle favourite Faugheen on Sunday for what was expected to be a routine win - sent off with a BSP of 1.192/11 - on another all-conquering season for Willie Mullins charge.

But stablemate Nichols Canyon hadn't read the script and travelled noticeably better than Faugheen whose usual slick jumping let him down. Faugheen did rally towards the end but it was too late.

The Champion Hurdle ante-post market reacted accordingly, with 'the Machine' drifting from 2.01/1 to a much more healthy looking 2.6813/8. That seems a very backable price for a horse who had previously not put a foot wrong. It may be worth starting to get involved at that price - a small back bet to get the ante-post portfolio on a roll seems sensible.


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The Arkle market also started to take shape on Sunday with Garde La Victoire labouring to win at Cheltenham which caused no significant market ripples. Meanwhile, over at Punchestown, Sizing John put in a much more convincing display and moved positively from around the 22.021/1 mark in to 13.5.


Cheltenham 2016: Key market movers post the Open Meeting

Sprinter Sacre: In from 29.028/1 to 5.59/2 for the Champion Chase
More Than That: In from 14.013/1 to 7.06/1 for the RSA Novice Chase
Faugheen: Out from 2.01/1 to 2.6813/8 for the Champion Hurdle
Sizing John: In from 22.021/1 to 13.5 for the Arkle

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