We've had a weekend of high class racing in England and Ireland and as a result there has been three significant market movers ahead of next year's Cheltenham Festival...
Cheltenham Festival Movers
We begin this week's 'Road To Cheltenham' column with the ultra-impressive Altior who wasted little time in returning to the track after impressing on chase debut at Kempton less than two weeks ago. Sent of long odds-on to land the Henry VIII Novice chase he tracked the leaders throughout and kept his challenge late pulling clear of the useful Charbel after the last. The market was soon to react and the High Chapparral gelding solidified his position as Arkle favourite, available at odds of 7.413/2 at the start of the season Altior now trades at 2.6613/8.
Nicky Henderson was quick to pencil in his next target of the Wayward Lad Novices Chase at Kempton won by Sprinter Sacre & Simonsig on route to Arkle victory in recent years. It is yet to be seen if Altior can emulate the likes of them but with market rivals Min and Identity Thief impressing so far the Arkle looks a race to savour as things stand.
On the same card Un De Sceuax bounced back to form having disappointed during the spring last season. The 8yo was no match for the mighty Sprinter Sacre at Cheltenham or Sandown but, still held in high regard, he made no mistake on his seasonal bow fending off Sire De Grugy and Gods Own in a thrilling finish to the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase.
On the back of that victory he has been backed into 11.010/1 for the Champion Chase from a high of 22.021/1.
With stable mate and market leader Douvan due to appear in next week's Hilly Way Chase at Cork we can be sure Willie Mullins will be keen to keep them apart prior to the festival so it is unknown what route he could take. With Douvan likely to scare most of the opposition away Un De Sceaux may represent decent value in what is likely to be a small field affair.
Across the sea Fairyhouse served up a cracking day's racing with the Hatton's Grace Hurdle being the highlight. Leading mares Vroum Vroum Mag and Apples Jade locked horns for the first time with the unbeaten Rich Ricci mare going off a warm order to land the spoils but it was Apples Jade who came out on top edging out her rival by a short head on the line.
Their Champion Hurdle prices moved appropriately with Apples Jade now trading at 32.031/1 having been as big as 50.049/1 and Vroum Vroum Mag drifting to 25.024/1 having been 17.016/1 prior to her first defeat. With previous winners Faugheen and Annie Power yet to be seen this season there must be doubts about both of them which leaves the race open for something to come out of the woodwork which could very well end up being Apples Jade.
Cheltenham Festival Movers
Altior in the Arkle 7.413/2 into 2.6613/8
Un De Sceaux in the Champion Chase 22.021/1 into 11.010/1
Apples Jade in the Champion Hurdle 50.049/1 into 32.031/1