It's been a relatively quiet week in terms of Cheltenham Festival contenders making their mark, but there have still been some significant market movers in some of the key ante-post markets...
"A shock winner on his racecourse debut Any Second Now is now trading at 16.5 for the Supreme and 21.020/1 for the Neptune."
We start this week's Road to Cheltenham on Irish shores where the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle took centre stage at Punchestown. The race has been a key trial for the Supreme Novices Hurdle in the last few years with the likes of Vautour, Douvan and Min to name but a few who have gone on to greater while taking this race in on route.
Willie Mullins sent the exciting Crack Mome who went off a warm favourite [1.43 BSP] travelled strongly but got into the bottom of the last and found little for pressure. Ted Walsh's Any Second Now, making only his second start under rules, travelled and jumped well throughout and while he did look a little outpaced coming into the straight, found plenty for pressure to sweep by the Mullins hotpot within the final 200 yards.
A shock winner on his racecourse debut Any Second Now is now trading at 16.5 for the Supreme and 21.020/1 for the Neptune. Described by his trainer as a raw and unexposed type, Walsh issued a word of caution with regards to his festival targets and could potential be minded with the future in mind.
Warwick was the feature card in England on Saturday where a few novices threw their hats into the ring with regards to the festival. One of the most impressive performance of the weekend came in the form of the Harry Fry-trained American who won the Listed Novice Chase, jumping like a seasoned pro he galloped his competitors into submission in an excellent front running performance.
Sent of a at 5.37 BSP in what looked a very warm renewal, Noel Fehily made all and backers never had a moment of worry. Introduced into our RSA Chase market on the back of that performance he is now a trading at 40.039/1. Jockey Fehily did suggest he was the RSA type of horse but would need soft ground to take his chance.
Ben Pauling appears to have another smart novice hurdler on his hands in the form of Willoughby Court who took the Neptune Novice Hurdle trial at Warwick in good style.
Showing an impressive turn of foot in testing ground, both jockey and trainer seem confident that a step up in trip will bring out the best in their six-year-old. Introduced into our Albert Bartlett market he can be backed at 17.5 for the longer target.
This week saw the start of the initial entries for the festival. While there was no shock inclusions or omissions in the big chases, there were some unfortunate withdrawals from the Gold Cup. News broke early in the week that last year's Gold Cup winner Don Cossack's return to full fitness has proved a bridge too far and will now enjoy his retirement in Gigginstown Stud.
Another horse under the same ownership Valseur Lido is another casualty who will not fulfil his festival targets after being ruled out for the remainder of the season. These defects have led to Thistlecrack hardening at the top of the market, being backed from 2.305/4 into 2.186/5.
Cheltenham Festival Movers
Any Second Now 50.049/1 in to 16.5 for the Supreme
American - now trading at 40.039/1 for the RSA
Willoughby Court trading 17.5 for the Albert Bartlett
Thistlecrack 2.305/4 in to 2.186/5 for the Gold Cup