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It may only be mid-November, but Cheltenham’s Paddy Power November Meeting and is traditionally the moment when ante-post quotes for the Cheltenham Festival, come flying out from every angle. This year is no different and as we gallop headlong into a feast of big race action in the UK and Ireland pre-Christmas.
Expect the markets to fluctuate more than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job prospects at Old Trafford as the Betfair Chase, Newbury Winter Festival, Cheltenham’s December meeting and all the action from Ireland takes centre-stage over the next few weeks, before the Christmas Racing Fiesta’s come under orders.
So from right about now, up until March 15-18 next year, we’ll be giving you a steer on all the latest movers & shakers in the ante-post market ahead of the four-day Cheltenham Festival. Just click on the link Cheltenham Festival whenever the mood grabs you over at PaddyPower.com.
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One of the performances of the weekend was NUBE NEGRA in Sunday’s Shloer Chase at Cheltenham where Dan Skelton’s charge was a comfortable 6l winner under the trainer’s brother Harry.
The winning handler mentioned both the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown next month and the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton over Christmas as a possible next target and he was slashed for the former.
But one renewal that is definitely on the agenda is the Champion Chase at the Festival, a race in which he finished runner-up to Put The Kettle on last season, and for which he was halved in price.
I LIKE TO MOVE IT was one of Paddy’s five best-backed horses for the Paddy Power November Meeting and he didn’t let supporters down and was always doing enough to land the Sky Bet Supreme Trial on Sunday.
We’ll probably learn more about Nigel Twiston-Davies’s exciting youngster next time as he only had two rivals to beat, but the manner of the performance was enough to see him contract in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle market.
Over on the Emerald Isle on the same day, Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle hero VANILLIER got off the mark over fences in dramatic fashion in a Grade 2 novices’ chase at Punchestown where two rivals fell in the closing stages and he came home in glorious isolation.
Winning trainer Gavin Cromwell described the winner as a ‘dour stayer’ and he was cut for the National Hunt Chase and looks likely to continue his education over the bigger obstacles in a staying chase at either Leopardstown or Limerick over Christmas.
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Surprisingly champion trainer Paul Nicholls had not had a winner at Cheltenham for a year before THREEUNDERTHRUFIVE put that statistic right when keeping on well to land a competitive-looking novices’ chase by 4¼l under a fine Adrian Heskin ride.
The winner is owned by flamboyant Max McNeill, who celebrated in typical fashion, and he can now dream of a Festival success with him in either the National Hunt Chase or the Festival Novices Chase for which he was inserted into the betting for both heats.
A trip to Chepstow for the Welsh National over Christmas is not out of the question either.
There’s no more ‘double-carpet’ 33-1 around about Henry de Bromhead’s rising star after she was impressive in making all to overwhelm Darrens Hope by 25l in a mares’ beginners chase at the southern track and she was also trimmed for the Arkle Chase.
RIVIERE D’ETEL‘s price was another cut from ‘double-carpet 33/1’ for the Arkle Chase after she remained unbeaten over fences jumping for fun to impressively score in a Grade 2 novices’ chase at Punchestown on Saturday.
Some pundits might point out that the winner was receiving an allowance of 18lb for being a four-year-old filly, but she’d have won with more weight anyway and winning handler Gordon Elliott is eyeing a mares’ novice chase at Cork or a novice chase at Navan now before a yuletide trip to Leopardstown.
We can’t not mention Paddy Power Gold Cup hero MIDNIGHT SHADOW, who was backed for the weekend’s feature last Tuesday having been an original 25-1 poke when our odds boffins first priced up the race last month.
Northern trainer Sue Smith knows the winner is a good horse and is seriously considering stepping him up in both trip and class in the King George at Kempton over Christmas for which he was available at 100-1 before the Paddy Power.
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