There were plenty of Cheltenham Festival clues over the weekend in the UK and Ireland, particularly during the two-day Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.
Here is a look at how those races have impacted the Cheltenham Festival ante-post markets.
Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs dispelled any stamina concerns with an impressive performance in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown on day one of the Dublin Racing Festival. It was his first start over 3m as a chaser and he passed the test with flying colours.
Willie Mullins’ runner was untidy over a couple of his fences in the closing stages of the race, but he showcased his engine and stamina in the home straight to score by eight lengths, finishing ahead of his stablemate Stattler.
After a final fence fall in the Turners Novices’ Chase last season, his connections will be hoping he can complete his redemption mission at the Festival next month. He is now 5/4 to give his trainer a third success in the Blue Riband event of the week.
Mullins believes he will have no issues with the extra distance at Cheltenham and that his horse is improving all the time. He said: “He seemed to gallop away through the line. What I love about him now is that he’s settling, he’s not keen and Paul is able to put him wherever he wants him in a race. That’s crucial for tactics going forward.”
The Irish Champion Hurdle was won by State Man on day two of the Dublin Racing Festival. It was another big step forward for Mullins’ hurdler, who has now won his six races on the track. This was his fourth consecutive Grade One success.
Under the hands of Paul Townend, State Man made the running and he made it a tough test for his rivals. When Townend increased the tempo with two hurdles to jump, the rest of the field struggled to match his pace.
State Man represents the biggest challenger to red-hot favourite Constitution Hill in the Champion Hurdle. He is 11/4 to upset the unbeaten hurdler in the Championship race on day one.
Honeysuckle had to settle for second place in the Irish Championship Hurdle, ending her grip on the crown in the contest. Her owner Kenny Alexander revealed after the race that the Mares’ Hurdle is now the plan for her at the Festival. She is 2/1 to win the contest she prevailed in four years ago.
Facile Vega lost his unbeaten tag in the Grade One Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle on Sunday. He finished fifth of six runners in that race, after weakening quickly with two hurdles to go.
Mullins’ hurdler is out to 7/2 for the curtain raiser of the Festival, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He has been dislodged as the favourite for that race, with Marine Nationale now the 2/1 market leader.
Il Etait Temps was the outsider of the field for the Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle, but Facile Vega’s stablemate scored impressively by just over nine lengths. He has jumped to the top end of the Supreme betting at 4/1.
Gaelic Warrior was just touched off in the Boodles Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival last March on his opening appearance for Mullins. Since then, he has won all three of his races, with his latest success coming at Leopardstown.
Under top weight, the five-year-old travelled strongly throughout the Grade B handicap hurdle, before comfortably putting the race to bed after the last hurdle. Mullins now must decide which race to target at the Festival with his exciting hurdler.
Gaelic Warrior can be backed at 7/2 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, while he is 4/1 in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle betting. bet365 are Non Runner No Bet on all 28 races at the meeting, which helps if you are backing the Irish horse in either of those two markets.
Despite ground concerns, Gerri Colombe landed the Grade One Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown on Saturday afternoon. Gordon Elliott’s runner was the standout entry in the field, and he proved his class, scoring at the highest level for the second time.
The Sandown winner is the 9/4 second favourite for the National Hunt Chase, the longest race of the week at the Festival, while he is quoted as the favourite for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.