We may only have a week to wait until the Cheltenham Festival ignites on March 10, but whilst many of the leading fancies for the Prestbury Park extravaganza are being primed for a shot at one of the elite National Hunt prizes, Nicky Henderson's Call The Cops propelled to the head of the Pertemps Final betting after easing to a five-length win at Doncaster at the weekend. We look back at the last seven days, as we were also enlightened on some crucial jockey bookings for next week's National Hunt jamboree.
Call The Cops Primed For Pertemps Test After Doncaster Win
Nicky Henderson sent Call The Cops into the unknown on Saturday afternoon, as the six-year-old was tested over three miles for the first time in his fledgling career and the Seven Barrows inmate duly relished an enhanced test of stamina and romped five-lengths clear in what looked a trappy Doncaster handicap hurdle.
He eased to the front and kicked clear under Andrew Tinkler to land the prize and bookmakers were fast to slash his odds for the Pertemps Final on March 12, with most cutting him from an orginal 25/1 to as short as 10/1 for what is one of the most testing punting assignments of the entire festival.
Noel Fehily To Ride Zarkandar In Ladbrokes World Hurdle
Noel Fehily declared that he would ride joint favourite Zarkandar in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, which is the highlight of day three of the Cheltenham Festival, as his agreement with the owners of the former Triumph Hurdle winner means he will pilot that Paul Nicholls-trained raider instead of Rock On Ruby, who he piloted to victory in the Champion Hurdle a few years ago.
Already riding Silviniaco Conti in the Cheltenham Gold Cup for the owners Chris Giles & Potensis Bloodstock Ltd, it was always thought that Fehily would pilot Zarkandar and not take up the ride on Rock On Ruby in the staying showpiece, so it's Harry Fry's charge that is a terrific spare ride in what will be a crackerjack renewal on the third day of the meeting.
Investment Hands Nicholls More Greatwood Gold Cup Glory
Paul Nicholls' sensational record in the Greatwood Gold Cup continued at the weekend, as the Ditcheat handler sent Sound Investment to glory in the Newbury feature, to notch up his seventh win in the race since 2006, as his dominance of the Saturday feature events continued.
Sam Twiston-Davies was forced to get busy on the top weight as they headed into the home straight, but after jumping the last fence in second place, his charge picked up in fine fashion and went on to win a shade cosily and launch Nicholls back into the winner's enclosure and enhance his lead at the top of leading trainers standng.
Vautour Shines In Leopardstown Workout
Willie Mullins exclaimed a glowing report on JLT Novices' Chase favourite Vautour, after last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle champion worked at Leopardstown at the weekend, and the Co. Carlow handler can't wait to unleash his exciting chaser in what is an intriguing Grade 1 market.
A runaway winner last season, Vautour has blotted his copybook this season when being beat at short odds, but he has remained favourite for this event, where he will take on the likes of Ptit Zig and Apache Stronghold, but Mullins, who has an embarrassment of riches within his novice department, is expectant of a top run from one of his stable stars.
Barry Geraghty Set For The Young Master Spin In RSA
The Young Master has progressed with aplomb this season and following his controversial disqualification after winning the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton, the Neil Mulholland-trained charge has been a leading player in the RSA Chase betting, and he will be ridden by Barry Geraghty, who has been booked for the ride.
Geraghty will be challenging Ruby Walsh for that Top Jockey crown throughout the Cheltenham Festival and it's a superb ride for him to pick up, and the progressive Mulholland-trained raider has to be considered a real player if continuing on an upward curve in what is a wide open staying division.