The Road to Cheltenham: Tizzard shows off a pair of Festival contenders

Colin Tizzard is having a seriously impressive season
Colin Tizzard is having a seriously impressive season
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Betfair's Follow The Money team keep us up to speed with all the Festival betting moves in their latest edition of the Road to Cheltenham column...

"The Tizzard yard are in red-hot form and show no signs of slowing down. Earlier in the year Tizzard was quoted as saying Finians Oscar was the "best young horse" in the yard, and given the short timeframe he's been working with the five-year-old, it would be fair to say that we should see further improvements between now and March."

After the hustle and bustle of the festive season we were brought back to reality In a week where, although the quantity of races dropped off, there was undoubtedly some serious quality on display and the markets have adjusted accordingly...


Oscar could be a day one winner for Tizzard


Without a doubt the biggest mover of the week is the Colin Tizzard-trained Finians Oscar, who produced a stellar performance to blow away the competition in the Tolworth Hurdle. Although he idled a bit towards the end he showed an electric turn of foot at the second last that put the race to bed and catapulted himself to the head of the Neptune Novice Hurdle and Supreme Novice Hurdle markets.

The Tizzard yard are in red-hot form and show no signs of slowing down. Earlier in the year Tizzard was quoted as saying Finians Oscar was the "best young horse" in the yard, and given the short timeframe he's been working with the five-year-old, it would be fair to say that we should see further improvements between now and March.

Prior to the Tolworth, Finians Oscar could be backed as high as 45.0 on the exchange for the Supreme Novice Hurdle on the opening day of the festival, a race usually dominated by Willie Mullins, Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls. But following his imperious display on Saturday he has been backed in to 13.5 third favourite and it would be no surprise to see Tizzard take home the opening race of the festival with Finians Oscar. The Neptune Novice Hurdle is another potential target where he is now 5.95/1 favourite from 30.029/1 following his impressive display.


A Festival contender for Gordon Elliott?


Action from Naas this Sunday provided a Grade 1 Novice Chase with Death Duty heading the market for Gigginstown House and Betfair columnist Gordon Elliott. The six-year-old jumped fluently and looked impressive the whole way around. We were left wondering, however, of what might have been when the Willie Mullins-trained Augusta Kate came down when upsides at the last, leaving Death Duty a runaway winner. It would have been nice to see how Death Duty performed under pressure, but you cannot deny him the success and it looks like he will head straight to the Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle where he is a clear favourite by a wide margin.

Once available as high as 36.035/1 Death Duty is now trading as low as 3.55/2. Trainer Elliott was quoted as saying "he will have a couple of easy weeks now and then head straight to Cheltenham."


Has the Time come for O'Brien?


There was a new addition to the Champion Bumper market in the Michael Tabor-owned, Joseph O'Brien-trained West Coast Time. Held up the back of the field in his first run at Cork and given a hugely confident ride by Patrick Mullins, he pushed the button two furlongs out and the gelding didn't disappoint. West Coast Time quickened decisively and put the race to bed in a matter of strides. He looks a very exciting prospect for March.

Another interesting move in the Gold Cup market this week as the Colin Tizzard newcomer Alary has seen his odds shrink rapidly after some promising comments from the trainer. Asked about the French horse's chances of running at Newbury next month, Tizzard replied "I don't know, but he's bloody good, I'll tell you that ".

These are some very encouraging comments, particularly from a man who is currently training the top two horses in the Gold cup market. Consequently, Alary's Gold Cup odds have shrunk from 100.099/1 to 30.029/1 without even having a run on British soil.


The Betting Moves In Full...
Finians Oscar 13.5 from 45.0 in the Supreme Novice Hurdle
Finians Oscar 5.95/1 from 30.029/1 in the Neptune Novice Hurdle
Death Duty 3.55/2 from 36.035/1 in the Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle
West Coast time opened up @ 16.015/1 in the Champion Bumper
Alary 30.029/1 from 100.099/1 in the Gold Cup

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