A multitude of National Hunt stars produced some memorable displays over the last seven days as Silviniaco Conti was sublime when regaining the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park, whilst an abundance of Willie Mullins-trained raiders recorded some sensational victories and enhanced their Cheltenham Festival claims. We look at the five big stories of the last seven days in our weekly round up.
Silviniaco Conti Storms To Top Class Betfair Chase Success
Paul Nicholls continued his strong affiliation with the Betfair Chase as the Ditcheat handler saddled his sixth winner in the Haydock Park Grade 1 as Silviniaco Conti produced one of his finest displays on a racecourse defeating the gallant Menorah in the 3m 1f showpiece on Saturday afternoon. It had been billed as the clash of the heavyweights as last year's winner Cue Card tried to retain his crown, with the likes of Dynaste and Taquin Du Seuil being major players, but the aforementioned Silviniaco Conti trounced his market rivals with a sublime display of jumping and stamina. Noel Fehily was always travelling well on the eight-year-old and he breezed to the front and between the final two fences it was only Menorah within shouting distance, but he could not outstay the 10/3 shot who bounded clear and was cut to a 4/1 shot for the King George VI Chase, whilst being trimmed to 8/1 for the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Faugheen And The New One Enhance Champion Hurdle Claims
Within one hour on Saturday afternoon the two premier contenders for the 2015 Champion Hurdle enhanced their claims for the Cheltenham Festival Championship race as both Faugheen and The New One bagged easy victories at the weekend. The latter was first to stake his claim and eased to victory in the inaugural Betfair Price Rush Hurdle at Haydock Park, as under a patient Sam Twiston-Davies he eased past Zamdy Man in the closing stages. Bookmakers opted to leave the former Neptune winner as a 7/2 shot for the Champion, but they were more impressed by the current Neptune winner Faugheen, who showed a blistering turn of pace to launch clear of Blue Fashion in the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle, and he is now only as big as 5/2 for the Tuesday showpiece in March.
Novice Chasers Impress During The Week
Willie Mullins was seldom out of the spotlight over the weekend and whilst he saddled an array of winners on Saturday afternoon, he took centre stage again on Sunday as Vautour made an impeccable start to his novice chasing career. Last season's epic Supreme winner produced a faultess round of jumping in a Navan event and the Rich Ricci-owned star is only a 5/1 chance with Paddy Power for the Arkle Challenge Trophy, whilst a 7/2 for the JLT Novices' Chase. Earlier in the week, Paul Nicholls's Ptit Zig made it two from two over the larger obstacles and whilst he may not have the reputation of Vautour he still caught the eye and is now hovering around a 16/1 shot for the Arkle.
Punters Continue To Plunge On Djakadam For Hennessy
Bookmakers have been forced to continue slashing the price of Djakadam for this weekend's Hennessy Gold Cup, as punters get on the bandwagon for the Irish raider to take centre stage at Newbury this weekend and hand the Willie Mullins team another notable prize. A faller in the JLT Novices' Chase at last season's Cheltenham Festival, the Emerald Isle star has been supported significantly in the betting over the last couple of weeks and he is a short as 7/2 with some firms to bag the prize won 12 months ago by Triolo D'alene, with this race sure to shake up the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting.
Fenton Banned From Training For Three Years
Philip Fenton, who was last month convicted of possessing anabolic steroids and other banned substances, has been disqualified for three years by the Turf Club. The Irish handler had already been fined for having the aforementioned drugs in his possession, but on Saturday he was hit with this sentence which see him have to watch from afar as the National Hunt season continues. Fenton's licenses will be suspended from November 28 and he will be banned from attending any Irish race meeting from March 1 next year.