The first Cheltenham meeting of the season is now just a few days away and with the rain falling heavily outside, the National hunt season now appears to be well and truly on. It has been a hectic few days of news from the jump racing world with some excellent horses making their seasonal debuts around the country and as always on a Monday, we have picked out five of the most important stories from around the sport from the last week to make sure you don't miss a trick.
Silver Concorde Returns with a Win
A Cheltenham Festival winner returned to racing last week with a comfortable win at Navan as connections gave the Champion Bumper hero, Silver Concorde. a comfortable return to racing. The Dermot Weld trained horse was the brilliant winner of the Bumper at Prestbury Park last March and he looked in decent form as he won the Win A Ski Holiday Race-card Competition Maiden with the minimum of fuss at Navan. It was a straightforward work out for the horse who is set to embark on a novice hurdling campaign this season with the aim of returning to Cheltenham and he will surely be well worth a watch.
Paddy Power Gold Cup Odds Now Live
Bookmakers across the UK and Ireland are beginning to price up some of the big National Hunt races of the season and the Paddy Power Gold Cup market went live last week for ante-post punters. The Paddy Power is always one of the big early season handicap contests of the winter at Cheltenham and already it is looking like a competitive contest. Early market leaders include Taquin Du Seuil, who won the JLT Novices Chase last March and Simonsig, who is a former Arkle winner and is returning from injury this winter for Nicky Henderson
More Of That To Stay Hurdling
There was big news from the Jonjo O'Neill stable last week with the announcement that World Hurdle hero More Of That will stay over the smaller obstacles this season. The JP McManus owned in-mate had been under consideration for a novice chasing campaign but after much consideration it has been decided that the six-year-old will be aimed at a repeat World Hurdle victory in March. More Of That is already as short as 3/1 to win the stayers hurdling contest for a second year-in-a-row and few would bet against him winning again at this stage given his class.
Wonderful Charm Claims Newton Abbot Success
There was a brilliant mid-week card of jumps racing at Newton Abbot on Friday afternoon and it was Wonderful Charm who made the headlines. The Paul Nicholls trained chaser won the Toteexacta Pick Intermediate chase over 2m5f with with the likes of Colour Squadron and Taquin Du Seuil left trailing in his wake. It was clearly a starting point for these horses but it was hard not to be impressed by Wonderful Charm who stayed on well and jumped fluently to mark himself out as a chaser to follow this season.
Bryan Cooper Returns to the Saddle
There was some good news for jockey Bryan Cooper on Sunday as the young Irish star returned from a long injury lay-off at Limerick. The Gigginstown Stud jockey has been off since picking up a serious injury in the spring and he returned to finish third on Guitar Pete in the Dunraven Arms Hotel Hurdle at the weekend. Cooper will now build up his return slowly as he looks to pick up where he left off last season as one of the best young jockeys in the sport. Guitar Pete was third in the Triumph Hurdle last season and was perhaps a little disappointing on Sunday with some predicting he could earn a place in the Champion Hurdle come March for Dessie Hughes.