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Cheltenham’s only three weeks away and there was plenty of upheaval in the markets all weekend as various horses boosted their chances with sterling efforts or bombed-out on their final audition for the main performance.
Sussex sorcerer Gary Moore’s Goshen was definitely in the former category with an easy win in Wincanton’s Kingwell Hurdle on Saturday that saw the five-year-old become one of only three horses now trading at single figure prices in Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle, having been 16-1 before the West Country demolition job.
Questions had been asked before this win as to whether he was still as good as his juvenile season, especially after his last of 10 in Cheltenham’s International Hurdle on his previous outing in December, but he turned the tables on that day’s winner Song For Someone in no uncertain terms.
A victory in hurdling’s blue riband would be fully deserved for connections who suffered the agony of their charge unseating Jamie Moore at the final obstacle in last season’s Triumph Hurdle when almost 10 lengths up and the way he had the Kingwell sewn up two out indicates he might just secure mighty compensation.
Cyrname’s defeat by Dashel Drasher in the same day’s Ascot Chase meant plans for a day out at Prestbury Park next month for the former were cancelled, while Somerset trainer Jeremy Scott now has the nice problem of whether to run ‘Dashel’ in the Ryanair Chase.
This was the Passing Glance gelding’s third win in succession over the Ryanair trip of 2m 5f at Ascot and his odds of 25-1 for the Cheltenham heat were trimmed.
It’s no given that he’ll turn up, but considering Paddy’s Non Runner Money Back for all Cheltenham races, any punters fancying him will get their hard-earned cash back if he fails to line up.
Sure, Cheltenham is obviously a very different track to Ascot, but Dashel is no forlorn hope as he always seems to keep a little up his sleeve.
It’s back to the drawing board for Cyrname who has a respiratory issue and let’s hope it can be resolved as when he’s good, he’s very good as a defeat of the mighty Altior in 2019 shows only too well.
A good weekend for the chances of UK-trained horses in the marquee events at the Festival continued on Sunday when the aptly-named Champ put in a sterling effort to finish runner-up to Sceau Royal in Newbury’s Game Spirit Chase and solidify his credentials for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
There are no longer any double-figure odds about the horse named after 20-time champion pilot Tony McCoy for chasing’s blue riband after a fine return after wind surgery and 347 days off games over an inadequate extended two miles.
The much longer distance in the Gold Cup will be ideal and his Cheltenham credentials are very strong with a previous second in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and his last-gasp victory in last year’s RSA Novices’ Chase.
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The stories of the ups and downs in racing are numerous and, a bit like if Goshen were to land this year’s Champion Hurdle, Sceau Royal’s success put a huge smile on the faces of many as the winner is owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, whose only runner the previous day L’Ami Serge was fatally injured.
It was a great result for punters as well as ‘the green team’ as he was justifying 3-1 favouritism and he is now around a third of his pre-race price for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
He was only fifth of five in it last term, but a subsequent wind op seems to have worked the oracle and this victory, which made amends for an unfortunate tumble in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton at Christmas, put Wiltshire wizard Alan King’s charge right in the mix.
*Paddy will be all over your telly box throughout the Cheltenham Festival sponsoring ITV’s live coverage from Prestbury Park – and you can get free and exclusive tipping columns EVERY DAY from Ruby Walsh, Matt Chapman and Mick Fitzgerald here on PP News.
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