Christmas is just about done. The turkey is gone, the only sweets left in the Quality Street tin are the weird green ones and there are more needles on the floor than on the actual tree. That also means that all eyes are turning to the Cheltenham Festival in March and the busy racing calendar over the festive season had people scrambling to back their fancies for the big one.
The Paddy Power Blog stayed sober enough through Christmas to track all the steamers and drifters and here’s your run down of the main market movers ahead of the Cheltenham Festival 2014.
At Fishers Cross 10/1 from 6/1 for the World Hurdle
The Grade One Long Walk Hurdle did not go to plan for the 8/11 favourite At Fishers Cross. The Rebecca Curtis trained Cheltenham winner wasn’t fluent at the first or second obstacles at Ascot and was sixth lengths behind the leader at the last. He dived at it and unseated the champ AP McCoy leading to Paddy pushing his price right out for the World Hurdle.
Reve De Sivola 16/1 from 20/1 for the World Hurdle
While it didn’t go to plan for At Fishers Cross in the Long Walk Hurdle, it went extremely well for Reve Di Sivola. Richard Johnson was on board to make all in this Grade One and win convincingly by 10 lengths to Salubrious. Reve De Sivola was fourth in the World Hurdle in 2013 and although he’s not one of the favourites for the 2014 renewal, the traders where impressed enough to nibble at the price.
Irving 14/1 from 16/1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
Irving’s six length victory in a Grade Two Hurdle at Ascot took his record to three from three over the obstacles. Paddy stopped Christmas shopping long enough to take note as Irving was held up before running clear after the last for Paul Nicholls, beating the odds-on favourite Volnay De Thaix.
Defy Logic 8/1 from 16/1 for the Arkle
Champagne Fever 5/1 from 3/1 for the Arkle
The Racing Post Novice’s Chase at Leopardstown on Boxing Day had a big impact on betting for the Arkle as the short priced favourite Champagne Fever drifted right out to 5/1. the Paul Nolan trained Defy Logic won the Grade One and was more than 14 lengths ahead of Champagne Fever who clouted the second last fence. Ruby Walsh’s mount is still fancied to reverse the result at Cheltenham but the odds are considerably closer now.
Silviniaco Conti 7/2 from 9/1 for the Gold Cup
Bobs Worth 5/2 from 4/1 for the Gold Cup
Silviniaco Conti stayed on powerfully after the second last to beat Cue Card by three-and-a-half lengths in the King George VI Chase and slash his price for Gold Cup success. He was travelling well before falling in the 2013 Gold Cup and after impressing with his jumping at Kempton, Paddy has made him the second favourite for the 2014 renewal.
Bobs Worth is looking to retain his Gold Cup crown and justified his favouritism by beating First Lieutenant and Sir Des Champs at Leopardstown on December 28. Despite not jumping to fluently, Nicky Henderson’s charge stayed on well under pressure to lead inside the final 100 yards and win the Lexus Chase.
Faugheen 7/1 from 10/1 for the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle
Captain Cutter 12/1 from 16/1 for the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle
Faugheen 8/1 from 12/1 for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
Faugheen confirmed favouritism for the Neptune and was also cut for the Albert Bartlett after taking his unbeaten run to four in a Grade Three at Limerick. The Willie Mullins trained five-year-old made all to win by five lengths at odds of 8/13, and despite not being overly certain over the obstacles Paddy is concerned enough to clip his price.
Over at Newbury Captain Cutter won the Grade One Challow Novices’ Hurdle ahead of Oscar Rock and Timesremembered. The 8/1 shot led after the second last and stayed on impressively to win by more than four lengths for AP McCoy and had the traders scrambling to cut his price.
My Tent Or Yours 7/2 unchanged for the Champion Hurdle
The New One 3/1 unchanged for the Champion Hurdle
My Tent Or Yours went head to head with The New One at Kempton on Boxing Day with Nicky Henderson getting the better of Nigel Twiston-Davies. But the narrow victory for My Tent Or Yours didn’t do anything to change the odds for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, with The New One just edging favouritism.
The New One was a length in front before blundering at the last when Sam Twiston-Davies lost an iron. That was all My Tent Or Yours needed to take advantage and he stayed on gamely to win by half a length.
Hurricane Fly 4/1 from 6/1 for the Champion Hurdle
Jezki 5/1 from 8/1 for the Champion Hurdle
Our Conor 6/1 from 5/1 for the Champion Hurdle
The Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown was one of the most fascinating races of the festive season as three Cheltenham contenders, who were all well backed went at it in a Grade One thriller.
Hurricane Fly came out on top to win his 18th Grade One and his price was slashed from 6/1 to 4/1 as Paddy Power lays the superstar at his peril. Jezki ran an eye-catching race, despite AP McCoy running into a few problems behind Danny Mullins to finish second, and he has also been clipped for the big one at Cheltenham.
Our Conor ran into third and although he has drifted slightly, he is still one to fear on his day.