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Last weekend’s ante-post movers for Cheltenham 2022 kept Paddy’s traders busier than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as he removed his personal items from Old Trafford. There were plenty of Cheltenham clues from Betfair Chase day at Haydock, Saturday’s meeting at Ascot and Gowran Park and Navan on Saturday and Sunday.
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Sometimes in racing your eyes literally can’t believe what they’re seeing and the leap that A Plus Tard put in at the fourth last fence was absolutely astonishing. He seemed to make three lengths on his rivals in the air, en route to a 22-length demolition job in the Betfair Chase.
There’s certainly no more 7-1 around for the Cheltenham Gold Cup after this exhilarating performance left him at the front of the market and it’s not surprising his odds have more than halved for the Blue Riband. Many a good judge left the Lancashire venue stressing they’d just seen the Cheltenham winner in March.
We’ll see him next attempting to retain his Savills Chase crown at Leopardstown over Christmas, but he’s so good at a left-handed track, it’ll take a good one to beat him at the Festival next March.
Bob Olinger has been a name on plenty of lips for quite a while and the talk looked justified after the six-year-old, who played his part in giving Henry De Bromhead, who also trains A Plus Tard, a fantastic afternoon as he easily justified odds-on favouritism at Gowran Park on his first start over the bigger obstacles.
His lofty reputation meant that he was the ante-post favourite for the Marsh Chase even before this winning debut, but he’s even shorter now despite, if you wanted to be ultra-critical, a couple of novicey jumps.
But perhaps that is being harsh as he beat a good yardstick in Bacardys by six and a half lengths and the Grade 1 Faugheen Novice Chase at Limerick over the festive period could be his next outing.
Bravemansgame was behind Bob Olinger in last season’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and even though Paddy cut him for the Marsh Chase from 10-1, you’d have to think that trainer Paul Nicholls will go for the Festival Novices Chase with Bravemansgame to avoid Bob Olinger. The Didcheat runner remained unbeaten over fences in a competitive-looking graduation chase at Haydock.
He was 7-1 for the Festival Novices Chase before he was two and three-quarters too powerful for Itchy Feet, a Grade One winner as a novice at Sandown in 2020 (beating Paddy Power Gold Cup winner Midnight Shadow). A trip to Kempton over Christmas now beckons for this highly-exciting customer.
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Winning trainer Gordon Elliott expressed the view that ‘the National Hunt Chase could be written all over’ Sunday’s Troytown Chase hero Run Wild Fred after he’d won easily at Navan. He immediately halved in price for the long-distance event, but punters appeared to take note of the handler’s comments and he’s even shorter now.
Elliott also saddled the second home, Farclas, and said the first two could be Aintree Grand National horses in time. The winner’s 33-1 for the world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree also evaporated after this win.
Hollow Games also made for a brilliant afternoon for Elliott at Navan, where he stayed on well to remain unbeaten in the Grade 3 Monksfield Novice Hurdle.
The victory was sufficient to earn him a nick for the Albert Bartlett and he joined Kilcruit at the front of the market from 9-1. Winning pilot Davy Russell was impressed with the speed he exhibited and we’ll learn more when he lines up next in a Grade 1 novice hurdle at Naas.
Cesarewitch winner Buzz also has lofty ambitions over hurdles now after a comfortable success at Ascot and was trimmed from 12-1 for Paddy’s Stayers’ Hurdle. He’s yet to compete over three miles, but shrewd connections seem convinced he’ll stay and he certainly didn’t seem to be stopping over this extended 2m 3f from a decent rival in Song For Someone.
Lostintranslation looked to have the world at his feet when he landed the 2019 Betfair Chase and he returned to winning ways in Ascot’s 1965 Chase.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the big target and he was installed into that at 25-1, but the King George VI Chase may well be on the agenda and he was slashed from the same price for the Boxing Day feature at Kempton.
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