Ruby Walsh’s decision to partner Willie Mullins’s Champagne Fever in the William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle has seen last year’s Champion Bumper winner shorten significantly on Tuesday morning and the Irish raider is as short as 6/1 with the sponsors for the Cheltenham Festival curtain-raiser, which will now take place at 2:05pm after officials were forced to move the card back after a 10:30am inspection.
Many had believed that the winning-most jockey in the history of the Prestbury Park extravaganza would team up with Paul Nicholls and pilot Dodging Bullets, who has winning course form, but Walsh elected to stick with Mullins’ six-year-old who bounced back to form last time out when winning the Grade One Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.
In one of the most eagerly-anticipated races of the entire four days, the Supreme Novices' Hurdle has attracted some potential superstars and My Tent Or Yours has dominated the ante-post betting since his facile Betfair Hurdle win, but the bookmakers are out to get the Nicky Henderson-trained raider and Paddy Power are as big as 5/2 about the JP McManus-owned raider taking the prize, when he was 6/4 last week.
Pricewise often has a major bearing on the market movers in the early exchanges of a betting day and Tom Segal’s selections on day one have certainly caught the eye of punters and one in particular they are latching on to his Merry King in the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase at 2:40pm.
Jonjo O’Neill’s raider was available at double-figured prices when the odds were compiled after final declarations, but the Jackdaws Castle inmate has attracted a flurry of money in the betting offices over the last few hours and he is now a best-priced 7/1 with William Hill for the third race on the card, where he will look to bounce back from a nose defeat to Cannington Brook in the Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase at Haydock Park in December.
Arguably, the most competitive race of the entire day, the JLT Specialty has seen a couple of little nibbles in the lower echelons of the betting matrix and Poole Master, another Pricewise selection, has been cut to 25/1 in some places, whilst Monkerty Tunkerty is another who has been trimmed a little into 16/1 for what is a race some bookmakers are offering five places on each way bets.
The blue riband event on day one, the Champion Hurdle, hasn’t seen any significant market moves, but various books have eased Hurricane Fly out to 9/4, whilst Zarkandar is extremely solid at 7/2, but the betting will hot up as we get ever nearer to 4:00pm.
French raiders are few and far between at the Cheltenham Festival, but Sacree Tiepy has been popular on Tuesday morning and the Pricewise selection for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at 5:45pm has been cut to 12/1 from 20s for the idiosyncratic test of jumping in the latter part of the card.