The Road to Cheltenham: Henderson's horses make their moves

Nicky Henderson looks set for more Festival glory
Nicky Henderson looks set for more Festival glory
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The money has come for a pair of Nicky Henderson's stable stars with Buveur D'Air and Top Notch attracting the antepost cash. The Follow The Money team have news on those moves and all the other antepost headlines...

"A convincing victory in the weekend's only grade 1 on the British Isles, the Scilly Isles Novice Chase at Sandown, saw the likeable Top Notch harden in the JLT Novice Chase market (20.019/1 in to 8.07/1). Though not the size of a chaser, this former Triumph Hurdle placed six-year-old bay has developed a following as he attacks his fences with relish."

UPDATE: Monday, 15:00 - Willie Mullins has revealed that both Faugheen and Min have been ruled out of Cheltenham.

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The week started with the news that the JP McManus-owned novice chaser Buveur D'air is to be rerouted for a go at the ever weakening Champion Hurdle.

This saw the six-year-old son of Crillon's price collapse from 30.029/1 into 5.59/2 after he showed he still has the appetite for hurdles at Sandown this weekend, the first time he has been over the timber obstacles since his beating of fellow Champion Hurdle candidate Petit Mouchoir at Aintree in a novice Grade 1 in April.

McManus has a strong hand in the antepost markets this year but another Champion Hurdle contender, Yanworth, has been on the drift this week, moving from 5.39/2 to 8.415/2. This is in part due to shuffling of the McManus pack and Yanworth missing his intended prep run through injury.

This year's Champion Hurdle took another blow when 2015's dominant winner Faugheen missed his intended prep in the Irish Champion Hurdle. With last year's winner Annie Power already ruled out and with doubts surrounding the market leader, don't be surprised if other trainers follow Nicky Henderson's lead and throw more darts at this wide open championship event.


Top Notch a top choice for JLT


A convincing victory in the weekend's only grade 1 on the British Isles, the Scilly Isles Novice Chase at Sandown, saw the likeable Top Notch harden in the JLT Novice Chase market (20.019/1 in to 8.07/1). Though not the size of a chaser, this former Triumph Hurdle placed six-year-old bay has developed a following as he attacks his fences with relish.

The market leader in the JLT, Yorkhill, continues to divide opinion with an unorthodox fencing technique and may have trouble dealing with Nicky Henderson's pocket rocket come Wednesday's opener.


Another flop from a Supreme fancy


The festival curtain raiser has an open look to it as no novice hurdler has particularly impressed this season so far. At Punchestown on Sunday we saw another Willie Mullins hotpot turned over in the shape of Cilaos Emery. As short as 9.28/1 in the betting for the Supreme Novice Hurdle before this weekend's race the Luke Mcmahon-owned five-year-old gelding has now drifted out to 18.017/1 on the exchange having failed to see off the challenge of the Gordon Elliot-trained Mick Jazz at the County Kildare track.


Looking to Leopardstown for solid Festival clues


Punters are really struggling this winter for festival clues as a spate of injuries and fatalities have muddied the markets. No defending champion will be back to attempt to retain their crown in the four main championship races and targets are still up in the air for many contenders. Hopefully Leopardstown's multiple Grade 1 card this day next week will shed some light on the antepost picture as we continue our road to Cheltenham.


Key Movers
Buveur D'Air in the Champion Hurdle 30.029/1 into 5.59/2
Top Notch in the JLT Novice Chase 20.019/1 into 8.07/1
Cilaos Emery in the Supreme Novice Hurdle 9.28/1 out to 18.017/1

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