We may have had an unseasonably mild bout of weather over the last seven days, but their have been some imperious equine performances that have sent a shiver down the spine, whilst some have flopped on the big stage in a sparkling week. We look at the five major stories in our weekly jumps round up as the National Hunt season clicks into top gear.
Menorah Lights Up Wetherby In Charlie Hall Romp
Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson teamed up to bag another big Saturday prize as after saddling Wishfull Thinking to victory in the Old Roan Chase last weekend, the duo masterminded a sensational four-length victory for Menorah in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. Sent off an 8/1 shot the nine-year-old relished the quicker ground and breezed past the well-fancied duo of Silviniaco Conti and Taquin Du Seuil to land the Grade Two prize. He was duly cut to 20/1 for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, whilst the aforementioned Silviniaco Conti was eased to 14/1, with Taquin Du Seuil now available at 25s.
Meade On Road To Riches After JNWine Success
There were more Cheltenham Gold Cup clues on offer in Ireland on Saturday afternoon as the JNWine Champion Chase took centre stage and there was a magnificent lead-all-the-way performance from the Noel Meade-trained Road To Riches. Backed into 9/2 at the off, the Galway Plate winner was trying his luck in Grade 1 company for the first time as he tackled the likes of Boston Bob, Ma Filleule and Rocky Creek, but it was only the latter that gave him any sort of race as he eased 11 lengths clear of the Paul Nicholls-trained contender and is now a 25/1 shot with the sponsors for the Gold Cup.
Robin The King In Gutsy WKD Hurdle Victory
Mark Walsh would've been worried watching his namesake Ruby cajole Arctic Fire to within a neck of Little King Robin, but the prolific winning mare for Colin Bowe showed phenomenal battling qualities to see off the Willie Mullins-trained raider and bag victory in the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle at Down Royal on Friday. Having breezed a dozen lengths clear in the early stages Little King Robin has a number of her rivals struggling, but her chances looking to be holding on by a thread as Arctic Fire cantered upsides her approaching the last two flights. Nevertheless, the 9/2 shot was not for passing and having maintained the lead went on to win by three lengths and she is now an 8/1 shot from 20/1 for the David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Harden Becomes World Hurdle Candidate As Cross Flops
At Fishers Cross put in another disappointing display as the 4/7 jolly could only finish last of three in the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby, as the Warren Greatrex-trained Cole Harden launched his name into the Ladbrokes World Hurdle betting with a terrific eight-length win in the Grade 2 event on Saturday afternoon. Slashed to 20/1 for the Cheltenham three-miler in March, Cole Harden set a decent gallop from the outset and the flourishing Gavin Sheehan urged him clear and he duly obliged beating Medinas with consummate ease and there's surely more to come.
Hennessy Clues Aplenty As Clouds And Warrior Win
Dan Skelton continued his progression as the fledgling trainer saw What A Warrior produce a career best to win the United House Gold Cup at Ascot and the in-form performer is now a 25/1 shot for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. He was not the only horse to be trimmed for that valuable staying event as Many Clouds managed to get the better of Cheltenham Gold Cup ante-post favourite Holywell in an Intermediate Chase at Carlisle on Sunday and Oliver Sherwood's star is now only a 12/1 shot for the Hennessy, whilst Holywell was eased to 14/1 in the Gold Cup market.