Cheltenham Festival: Saint Sam enters picture for Turners Novices Chase

A couple of Irish challengers caused a few ripples in the Cheltenham antepost markets last weekend.

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*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing / Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional Antepost rules

Constitution Hill’s sublime performance at Sandown was the highlight of the weekend, but with Paddy having priced up all 28 Cheltenham Festival races now, including the handicaps, there was more ante post movement as well.

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TUESDAY, MARCH 15 – SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE

Seven Barrows sorcerer Nicky Henderson has form at throwing two high-class animals in against each other in the Festival opener as Altior and Buveur D’Air (1st and 3rd in 2016) and Shishkin and Chantry House (exact same positions four years’ later) shows and it currently looks likely stable companions Constitution Hill and Jonbon will face off this year.

The former usurped Jonbon at the head of the market after the champion trainer described him as “just seriously good” after he ran out an impressive 12-length winner of the Grade 1 Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown.

However, that means Jonbon has been pushed out for the two mile heat and he might just be the value after Henderson added: “At the moment I wouldn’t want to split them.”

‘Constitution’ might go straight to Prestbury Park now, while Jonbon could exhibit his talents further either in the Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock on January 22 or Sandown’s Contenders Hurdle in February.

TUESDAY, MARCH 15 – MARES’ HURDLE

Martello Sky has become Lucy Wadham’s stable star recently and despite not particularly enjoying the heavy ground on the Esher slopes on Saturday, she was always doing enough to land the second Listed mares’ hurdle of her career.

The winner didn’t make much impact in last year’s Mares Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival, but she’s definitely improved since then with four wins from five subsequent starts and she’s now not far off a single figure price.

The weekend’s ground may have made for a gruelling race, but she’s earned a well- – deserved break now and she’s another we’ll see next at Cheltenham.

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TUESDAY, MARCH 15 – BOODLES JUVENILE HANDICAP HURDLE

Gordon Elliott may have won this race three times in the last nine runnings, but his Britzka doubled in price and lost his place at the front of the market after only finishing fourth to White Pepper in a Fairyhouse four-year-old hurdle on Sunday.

There was a lot to like about the way the winner jumped and she was installed into the betting. She wasn’t winning out of turn either as she’d put in a decent effort when third in a Listed juvenile fillies’ hurdle at Aintree last month.

Across the pond at Sandown, Gary Moore’s Moulins Clermont was also chalked up for the Boodles after easily justifying favouritism by 13 lengths in a juvenile hurdle the previous day.

The winner clearly has potential as this was only his second outing for the West Sussex-based handler having transferred from France.

He’d obviously shown something at home on the gallops as he was sent off ‘jolly’ for a similar event at Fontwell in November, but he only mustered sixth on that occasion after hitting the second obstacle and losing ground before the second last. This was much more like it and he looks a tidy customer.

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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16 – GRAND ANNUAL HANDICAP CHASE

Winning pilot Bryan Cooper described Dunvegan as a ‘proper, proper jumper’ after he landed Sunday’s Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse and threw his hat into the Grand Annual ring.

If he lines up punters may be backing a Graded horse in a handicap as trainer Pat Fahy has him entered in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and looks likely to see if he’s up to that sort of class at next month’s Dublin Racing Festival. Runner-up Blackbow was far from disgraced and was also given an initial quote for this heat.

THURSDAY, MARCH 17 – TURNERS NOVICES’ CHASE

Saint Sam was decent enough over hurdles, but judging by the way he jumped on his first start over the bigger obstacles, chasing is going to be his bag and he now has a position in this market.

Runner-up in both last year’s Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival and Boodles at Cheltenham, he looked like he might have a bit of a battle on his hoofs after the second last on this initial fencing effort, but he just scooted away to win by nine lengths. This was only a beginners chase, but it was promising to say the least.

*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing / Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional Antepost rules

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