Punters looking take an early advantage into the festival this March are licking their wounds following a day of real upsets not seen at the Prestbury Park race track in many years. It all kicked off in the worst possible fashion when odds on Pistolet Noir from the blue chip Nicholls, Walsh combination were turned over by 100/1 shot Baccalaureate. Pistolet Noir was given a big up by trainer Nicholls in his morning column in the Racing Post and punters followed his lead by backing him into 8/15 on and so from an early stage in proceedings backers were on the wrong foot.
The feature race on the card the Argento Chase had another warm order favourite in Carruthers and it looked for most of the race that he was going to help punters get back on an equal footing for the day. However, another outsider in the form of the Paul Nicholls trained Taranis returning to the track after an absence of 766 days won at a decent price of 16/1. While nothing that happened in this race was going to impact the business end of the betting for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, this result will add interest in how many horses from the Nicholls yard will make the frame on the 19th March.
The other main race on this excellent days action was the Cleeve Hurdle and once again there was an upset with the winner Tidal Bay coming home at odds of 14/1. Trainer Howard Johnson had to make the choice earlier in the week whether or not to go for the Argento Chase or return to Hurdles in the Cleeve. He got it right and this result may see him take on Big Bucks in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
In all it was a day for the bookies and while they may have filled their satchels, the punters will be back on the 16th of March to get their revenge. The way day 1 of the festival is shaping up it may well be a day for the Bookmakers to take some cover as there are many short priced favourites that look nailed on.