CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL: Hillcrest leads Paddy’s market movers with three weeks to go

Paddy's been busy balancing the books with just 3 weeks to go to the off at Prestbury Park.

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TUESDAY, MARCH 15 – CHAMPION HURDLE

We took the knife to Teahupoo for Tuesday’s feature after he remained unbeaten this season with a savage win in Saturday’s Grade 3 Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park, when drawing clear from his six rivals at the second last.

The winner has the small task now of overcoming mighty mare and compatriot Honeysuckle in the blue riband, buts six wins and a second from seven career starts certainly mean he’s a lively contender.
The weekend’s victory can probably be upgraded as jockey Robbie Power reported that he hated the heavy ground and it will be interesting to see what he can do on a better surface at Prestbury Park.

Despite getting beaten by Goshen in the same day’s Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton, Adagio was also trimmed in the market.

TUESDAY, MARCH 15 – ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE

The appropriately-named Does He Know was slashed for the opening day handicap and the same day’s 3m 6f National Hunt Chase and it’s not yet clear which he’ll be aimed at as winning handler Kim Bailey was in Sri Lanka watching cricket.

However, whichever race he ends up in, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with (and there is Paddy’s non runner money back concession) after keeping on well on the run-in to land the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot on Saturday.

He’s three from four this term with his only defeat was to Threeunderthrufive at Cheltenham’s Paddy Power Meeting in November. That winner has subsequently won two Grade 2s himself.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16 – BALLYMORE NOVICES’ HURDLE

Good Risk At All finally got off the mark over timber after three seconds when readily scoring in a handicap hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.

He’ll obviously need to improve on winning that race off a mark of 127 to scoring at Cheltenham, but he should at least be on the premises as he was only defeated six lengths by Jonbon at Newbury in November.

Trainer Sam Thomas is having his best season to date and if this fellow can improve just a few pounds in the three weeks between now and the Festival, he could be a knocking each-way wager for this.

Allaho Rachael Blackmore Ryanair Chase Cheltenham March 18, 2021

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THURSDAY, MARCH 17 – RYANAIR CHASE

Fakir D’Oudairies found just Allaho too powerful in this contest last season and his odds almost halved to get the better of that rival next month, after an all-out success from Two For Gold in Saturday’s feature Betfair Ascot Chase.

Although he showed his gameness in reeling in the runner-up, it’s hard to see him mastering Allaho who also beat him by 12 lengths at Thurles in January.  That said, every horse can have an off day and he looks a stomping good each-way bet, especially as this was his third top level success after his win in last year’s Marsh Chase at Aintree and the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse in 2019.

There’s also the chance to take Allaho out of the equation in this market and BET WITHOUT the Willie Mullins trained hot-pot and also get the non runner no bet concession. So if your selection wins the race or comes second to Allaho, it’s happy days in this Specials market.

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If any horse deserves a win at Cheltenham it’s Melon, who has been runner-up at the Festival four times, and he also threw his hat into the ring for this when scooping the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park on the same day.

THURSDAY, MARCH 17 – PADDY POWER PLATE

Blue Sari was no match for Galopin Des Champs in a beginners chase at Leopardstown over Christmas when he made a number of mistakes, but he was much better despite pecking on landing at the final fence when easily winning a similar event at Gowran Park on Saturday.

While at this stage of his career he doesn’t appear to be top-class over the bigger obstacles, a second and a first from three chasing starts bodes well that he can be competitive in a Cheltenham handicap.
And the ability is definitely there as let’s not forget he was runner-up to Envoi Allen in the champion bumper in 2019.

FRIDAY, MARCH 18 – ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES’ HURDLE

Hillcrest halved in price for this after a comfortable victory in Saturday’s Grade 2 Albert Bartlett Prestige Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock and with trainer Henry Daly indicating that the impressive winner probably won’t go to both Cheltenham and Aintree, the great thing about Non Runner Money Back is punters will get their ‘hard-earned’ returned if he goes to the latter.

This was a lovely performance considering things hadn’t gone as planned on his previous start when pilot Richard Patrick was unseated in a similar event at Cheltenham after being slightly hampered by a faller. Daly reported that his potential star was completely unfazed by that on his return home which bodes well if he lines up at one of the busiest and noisiest meetings of the year.

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