It has been another reasonably quiet week on the road to the Cheltenham Festival but once again there have been one or two clues out there for punters to take advantage of. We have seen action on both sides of the Irish Sea and a number of horses have enhanced their claims for some of the important races at the Festival with the novices over hurdles and fences in particular catching our eye.
Perhaps the most impressive performance over the last few days came from The New One who enhanced his burgeoning reputation for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies. The horse won the Leamington Novices Hurdle over 2m5f at Warwick by an impressive 16 lengths on soft ground. The bookmakers were very impressed with the performance with one firm cutting the horse to 6/1 from 16/1 for the Neptune Investment Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. The New One has now won six of his seven starts with his sixth place in the Champion Bumper last season the blemish on his record but he looks a natural over hurdles and could be anything at this stage.
Another novice hurdler to catch our eye over the past few days was My Tent Or Yours who enhanced his Cheltenham claims with a good win at Huntingdon on Friday. The Nicky Henderson horse bounced back from losing last month to record an impressive success in the Red Mills National Hunt Novices Hurdle.
My Tent Or Yours has a win against the highly rated Taquin De Seuil on his record and the Supreme Novices Hurdle looks his likely Festival target. He was trimmed across the board for that race as a result of his Huntingdon win with the horse now available at a best priced 12/1 from 16/1 in the ante post market.
We saw another potential Supreme Novices Hurdle contender stake a claim over in Ireland at Navan on Sunday with Cause Of Causes claiming a narrow win. The Gordon Elliott horse got up on the line to claim a tight win from Midnight Game with bookmakers installing him at around 20/1 for the first race of the Festival. Connections are not expecting the horse to win the race but he is doing everything right and could offer some each-way value at a nice price for Elliott.
Changing codes to novice chasing and we were particularly taken with the performance of Rocky Creek on Saturday. The Paul Nicholls horse looked very good indeed when he won the Betfred Mobile Lotto Novices Chase by 15 lengths and he now looks on course for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. That market is dominated by Dynaste and Boston Bob but in Rocky Creek it could be that punters have found a viable alternative at a nice price.
It's fair to say that Rocky Creek will need to improve if he is to mix it with the market leaders but the bookmakers were impressed with his latest run with one firm cutting the horse to 12/1 from 20's for the RSA Chase. We know that he will stay the trip which is a bonus and provided the ground doesn't come up too fast he has to come into consideration for the big race.
It is also worth mentioning Oveturn, another novice chaser who continued his path to Cheltenham last Wednesday at Doncaster. The Donald McCain trained nine year old made it two wins from two starts over bigger obstacles with an effortless win at Town Moor and remains a 7/1 chance for the Arkle and whilst the prospect of upsetting the odds to beat Sprinter Sacre come 12th March looks a tall order, Overturn has done nothing wrong this far and there's plenty to like about him.