Clues Galore For Ante Post Action – Weekend Review

Informative – very informative, was the clear message from the weekend’s feast of jumps action, which provided clues galore for the big races ahead.

In Ireland, last season’s top novice hurdler, Vautour, made a successful debut over fences in winning at Navan on Sunday – a performance that saw his price for March’s Arkle Chase at Cheltenham slashed into 7/2.

Trainer, Willie Mullins, will now be look to get more experience into the 5yo, who looked a natural over fences and jumped well according to Ruby Walsh. Should he build on this next time, then he will be a lot shorter than 7/2 for the Arkle – a race that Mullins would love to add to his CV.

Another chaser cut in price was Balbriggan, who made all to win the competitive Troytown Handicap Chase. The money arrived for Gordon Elliott’s runner on Sunday, and that faith was justified as the improving 7yo made just one mistake at the last. Considering he has already won over further, his odds of 12/1 for the Chepstow’s Welsh National at Christmas look tempting.

Elliott was also amongst the big-race winners over hurdles at Navan, when Free Expression took the Grade 2 Monksfield Novice Hurdle. Having only won a maiden hurdle earlier in the month, this progressive 5yo took the leap into Grade company literally into his stride, quickening at the finish in the manner of a good one. He could now go for the Grade 1 Slaney Novice Hurdle at Naas in January, and success there will no doubt see his current price of 20/1 for the Supreme at Cheltenham in March take a tumble.

King George Betting
In Britain, Paul Nicholls won another Grade 1 Betfair Chase with Silviniaco Conti, who himself made it a second victory in the race. The 8yo came 2l clear of Menorah to make it 8-16 over fences, in the process setting things up nicely for next month’s King George at Christmas where he is 4/1. In third at Haydock was Dynaste (10/1 for the King George), with Cue Card (10/1) back in fourth; Menorah is 10/1 to gain revenge at Kempton.

But, let’s not forget Paul Nicholls’ Al Ferof, who may also go for the King George after winning Saturday’s Grade 2 Amlin Chase at Ascot, and is now 8/1 for Kempton. Considering Nicholls stated Al Ferof may have need the outing, he should be even better next time, though he still has 14l to make up on Silviniaco Conti having finished third to him in last year’s King George.

Champion Hurdle
Ascot also provided the stage for the current 2/1 Champion Hurdle favourite, Faugheen, who landed a Grade 2 Hurdle – an impressive victory which took his career record to 8-8. Willie Mullins’ unbeaten 6yo is versatile in terms of ground and trip (won over 2m5f), and having won at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, he could already be one of the “bankers’ come March.

Not that Alan King’s The New One, will be backing down from his challenge to win the Champion Hurdle, as he showed he was also in good form by winning a minor 2m hurdle at the weekend. A shade unlucky when third in last year’s Champion Hurdle (hampered behind Jezki), he could give Faugheen something to think about if winning next month’s International Hurdle at Cheltenham – what a December it’s going to be!…