Three winning favourites and one joint favourite, Poquelin 9/2, won at Cheltenham yesterday and all could reappear at the Festival in March. Like Friday though, I don’t think we saw any future Festival winners on show.
First up was Starluck who absolutely hacked up for trainer Alan Fleming and Timmy Murphy in the opener. “Timmy was very pleased with him and it was never in doubt,” said Fleming. But this was a weak field compared with the Triumph in March were he ran a good fourth. Initially introduced in the betting for the Champion Hurdle with a quote of 33-1, this was quickly reduced to 20-1 by Paddy Power. 25/1 is widely available elsewhere today but I won’t be rushing in as I can see him struggling against better opposition as the season progresses. A good boost for the Triumph Hurdle form though, a race that has now produced 8 wins (from 5 horses) from 36 runs.
Poquelin may now be included in Paul Nicholls’ team for the Paddy Power Gold Cup when landing the zeturf.com Handicap Chase at 3.15. Best when fresh he probably won’t be a factor come March, but could go well in the highlight of the Open or in a 2 mile chase at the same meeting.
Nicholls and Walsh hit the mark again as Just Amazing took the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Novices’ Chase. He jumped well and appreciated the good to firm ground. Champion trainer Paul Nicholls said, “If the ground remains on the quick side I might run him in the Rising Stars Chase at Wincanton.” There are plenty of other potential rising stars lurking at Nicholls’ Ditcheat stables in Somerset and I’d be surprised if he’s a factor later in the season, particularly as the ground will probably be softer.
The fourth winning favourite of the day, Kangaroo Court, was impressive in the Christmas Party Nights At Cheltenham Novices’ Chase and was cut to 20-1 from 25s by Paddy Power for the Arkle Trophy. However, the Arkle may not feature as Emma Lavelle, the trainer said, “The ideal race for him would be the two-and-a-half-mile novice chase at Aintree next April’.
In summary, over the two days of The Showcase I doubt whether we saw any serious Festival contenders on show. It will be a completely different story next month at the Paddy Power Open meeting which takes place from Friday 13 to Sunday 15 November.