There have been some impressive performances on the track over the last seven days, as the likes of Sire De Grugy and Beltor enhanced their Cheltenham Festival claims and were significantly cut in the ante-post betting. We look back at the last seven days in the National Hunt sphere and start with a Nicky Henderson-trained horse that will bypass next month's Prestbury Park extravaganza.
Beat That To Bypass Ladbrokes World Hurdle Test
Nicky Henderson's Beat That was as short as 10/1 for next month's Ladbrokes World Hurdle, but it emerged on Monday morning that the Seven Barrows inmate will not take his chance in the 3m staying showpiece on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival.
A top class novice hurdler last season, the Michael Buckley-owned raider had only been seen once this season, when being well beaten by Rock On Ruby at Cheltenham's New Year's Day meeting, but he will not be seen again this season, as connections have elected to put him away for a while and then target the novice chase scene next season.
Sire De Grugy Primed For Champion Chase Bid After Chepstow Win
Sire De Grugy was back to his scintillating best at the weekend, as the reigning Champion Chase hero produced a fine weight-carrying performance to win the Bombay Hunt Cup at Chepstow, and the Gary Moore-trained star is now as short as 7/2 to retain his Queen Mother crown.
Having to give lumps of weight away to his rivals, the classy speedster was aiming to bounce back from a fall in the Game Spirit Chase a couple of weeks ago, and he duly produced a fine jumping performance and eased clear in the closing stages to land the prize.
He is currently trading as second favourite behind former Champion Chaser Sprinter Sacre, but the manner in which Moore's pride and joy bounded clear at the Welsh venue suggested he will be a real tough nut to crack in what is shaping into an intriguing renewal.
Stephens Has Beltor Of A Chance For Triumph Hurdle
Fledgling trainer Robert Stephens could well have a star of the future within his ranks as the exciting four-year-old Beltor stormed to glory in Kempton Park's Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle on Saturday afternoon, and the top notch hurdling prospect was slashed from 50/1 to 10/1 for the JCB Triumph Hurdle next month.
He tanked through the Adonis, which is often regarded as a premier trial for the Triumph, before quickening the style of a real smart animal after the last flight of hurdles and he is set to take his chance in the Friday curtain-raiser on March 13, where he will lock horns with the exciting Nicky Henderson-trained duo of Peace And Co and Hargam.
Jason Maguire Ruled Out Of Cheltenham Festival
Jason Maguire missed last year's Cheltenham Festival through injury, but the former Grand National-winning jockey is set to miss the National Hunt jamboree for the second year on the spin after he was given a 14-day ban at Ludlow.
Riding Ben Pauling's Born To Succeed, Maguire was to adjudged to be guilty of "schooling/conditioning the horse on the racecourse" and was handed the hefty penalty by the stewards. Maguire has launched his appeal for the ban to be overturned and a verdict is expected to be known on Thursday, as he looks to have his ban quashed.
Champagne Fever Set For Champion Chase Bid
Willie Mullins has kept many of his cards close to his chest over the last few weeks, as punters try to second guess the County Carlow handler on where his illustrious book of stars may line up at next month's festival, but Champagne Fever looks set to take his chance in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
A gallant runner-up in the Arkle Trophy last season, Champagne Fever failed to sparkle over three miles in the King George VI Chase, so was always going to drop back in trip, but whilst the Ryanair Chase has been a potential race for him, Mullins expects the former Festival-winning grey to lock horns with the abovementioned duo of Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy in the Champion Chase.