Willie Mullins’ unbeaten mare Annie Power was confirmed as World Hurdle bound by the trainer after racing at Leopardstown on Sunday and BetVictor acted swiftly and make her the new 7/4 favourite for the feature race on Thursday at the Cheltenham Festival.
BetVictor are now Non Runner No Bet on ALL 27 races at the Festival as punters begin to get stuck into the form book and interesting support for the trio of Grandouet, Valdez and Rock on Ruby for the Arkle, is Champagne Fever a worthy 3/1 favourite?
Speaking of worthy favourites, Donald McCain has one in the opener at Newcastle with his string in flying form and his Stonebrook (2.20) is impossible to oppose. He runs under a penalty after being a very impressive winner last time out at Ayr and with AP McCoy on board again, it looks a relatively straightforward ‘point and steer’ job in the two mile novices’ hurdle.
The stable should ensure a double on the day with Wild Card (4.20) sharing a similar profile of a McCain horse in a novices’ hurdle under a penalty.
He turned over Kim Bailey’s promising Twelve Roses last April at Uttoxeter on his hurdling beau after showing promise in bumpers and was a solid third on his return at Wetherby. He was behind the smart pair of Three Kingdoms and Kilbree Chief that day and that form looks a cut above.
Should those two winners go in it could see stable-mate Storming Gale go off short in the two and a half miles handicap chase however Clondaw Flicka (4.50) will be difficult to beat, despite the drop back in trip.
Despite having just four runners the race looks a fascinating renewal, won by Lucinda Russell and Peter Buchanan last year and the duo have a similar, likable type with the 6-y-o seeking the hat-trick after wins at Doncaster and Wetherby.
Despite a 15lb rise at the weights he is clearly one is thriving now sent over fences and is taken to make it three on the spin for the in-form Russell stable.
The Reveley stable have a tremendous record in bumpers in the north and are a stable in flying form, Night in Milan running out an impressive winner of the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster at the weekend.
That bodes well for their Corsair Prince (5.20) in the bumper, who looks the ideal type to provide further success for the father and son team in this sphere.
Nicky Richards is another with an excellent record here and support for either of his pair of Teddy Tee and Wicked Spice would be highly significant.
Tom Scudamore goes to Exeter to ride Massannie (2.30) for David Pipe, with a win in the two and a half mile novices’ hurdle setting up a potential tilt at the Cheltenham Festival.
The mare has entries in the Coral Cup (33/1 NRNB) and the Martin Pipe Conditionals (40/1 NRNB) and could sneak into the foot of the weights under a penalty.
She should make light work of her inferior rivals prior to that however with Venetia Williams’ Bobble Boru the only perceived danger, but disappointing last time out when pulled up at Fakenham behind Pipe’s Cheltenham bound Doctor Harper.
Fergal O’Brien and Paddy Brennan have teamed up in the winners enclosure in the past few weeks and they can enjoy further success with Farmer Matt (3.30) in the three mile handicap chase.
He chased home Paul Nicholls’ 142 rated chaser Caid Du Berlais over course and distance, giving the 4-y-o 7lb and despite being beaten 13 lengths he jumped well and remains well treated now returning to handicaps from a mark of 114.
For all the latest odds go to BetVictor.com