Alan King's Balder Succes produced a scintillating performance in Saturday's Betfair Ascot Chase and the Barbury Castle inmate is the star attraction in our weekly round up of all things National Hunt racing. We also look at Champagne Fever's fine Red Mill Chase win, whils updating you on the latest news on More Of That's Cheltenham Festival participation.
Balder Lands Ascot Chase Succes And Is Trimmed For Ryanair
Ptit Zig's mid-race fall may have made Balder Succes' test easier, but the Alan King-trained raider still put in a real accomplished performance to win the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase and the Barbury Castle inmate is now a best-priced 7/1 with BetVictor Bookmakes for next month's Ryanair Chase.
He jumped with style throughout the 2m 5f 110y contest and he eased to the front with aplomb, before fending off Nicky Henderson's Ma Filleule, who wasn't disgraced in defeat, and is a 12/1 shot with Ladbrokes for the Ryanair, which is one of the feature events on March 12.
The aforementioned Ptit Zig was none the worse for his fall, but Paul Nicholls will take it easy for a week with his exciting novice and then get him fully tuned up for the JLT Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, a race he is currently hovering around the 4/1 mark.
Champagne Fever Ready For Festival After Red Mills Win
On his day Champagne Fever is a sensational jumping prospect and Willie Mullins' star returned to winning ways on Saturday, as sent off an odds-on favourite for the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park, he eased to victory and is bound for a third trip on the spin for the Cheltenham Festival.
A previous winner of a Supreme Novices' Hurdle and runner-up in last season's Arkle Trophy, it would point towards a festival speed test for the County Carlow inmate and following Saturday's facile win he is now a best-priced 6/1 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase on day two of the meeting.
His weekend win over 2m 4f shows he could see out the Ryanair trip at Cheltenham next month, but at 10/1 with some firms he's more expected to line up against the likes of Sprinter Sacre, Sire De Grugy and Dodging Bullets in the Champion Chase.
Holywell Primed For Gold Cup Bid Atfer Midweek Kelso Victory
Jonjo O'Neill's dual Cheltenham Festival winner Holywell lit up Thursday afternoon's racing from Kelso, as the Jackdaws Castle inmate was a facile winner of the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase and duly booked his place in next month's Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 13.
Sent off a red-hot odds-on jolly, AP McCoy was never tested against inferior opposition on board the exciting staying chaser and whilst he remains a 10/1 shot for the blue riband event on the final day of the National Hunt jamboree, this victory should sharpen him up and come the Gold Cup he's sure to be firing on all cylinders.
More Of That Unlikely To Make World Hurdle Bid
More Of That's participation in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle is in serious doubt as the reigning staying hurdle hero suffered a setback during training and it's touch-and-go whether the Jonjo O'Neill-trained raider will be fit in time to try and retain his crown.
He was reported to have broken a blood vessel whilst on a routine piece of work last Wednesday and O'Neill is waiting to hear back the results from some tests before mapping out where he could head in the spring, as he looks to emulate his fine World Hurdle win of 12 months ago.
Irving And Gilgamboa Could Both Bypass Festival
Following defeats at the weekend both Irving and Gilgamboa's connections could elect to bypass the Cheltenham Festival and wait for alternative races towards the end of the season, as they look to recapture the best form.
The former had been touted as a lively outsider for the Champion Hurdle, but he flopped when beaten by Blue Heron in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton, whilst Gilgamboa was beaten by outsider Rawnaq in a Grade 2 at Navan and an early frontrunner for the JLT Novices' Chase, the Enda Bolger-trained star could be handed a break instead of a trip to GL50.