Several shocks over the weekend across the UK and Ireland has seen a massive mix up in the Cheltenham festival betting for most of the major races in March. Several of the well fancied runners for the big races at the Festival have been in action and we have seen a shock or two which has led to all the major bookies re jigging their markets for some of the Festival highlights.
Dual Queen Mother Champion Chase winner and hot favourite for the hat trick in 2010 Master Minded made his seasonal debut in the Connaught Chase at Cheltenham on Sunday, he has won the race for the last two years and was expected to repeat the trick in this time around. However, he looked well off the pace and could only manage a poor third place with Well Chief taking the win as he looked the stronger up the Cheltenham hill. Master Minded looked out of sorts and immediately drifted in the Champion Chase betting to odds against with Well Chief and Big Zeb who won in Navan recently both shortening considerably in the betting. This is the first time since that glorious win in 2008 that Master Minded is looking vunerable and his next run should confirm if the result was just a blip or if his brilliant powers on the wain.
Champion Hurdle favourite Hurricane Fly was also in action for the first time at Punchestown with many expecting him to confirm his credentials for the feature race on Day 1 of the Festival, it was not to be though as he could only labour home in third spot. It was Solwhit who won in great style and his odds for the Champion Hurdle have been slashed considerably following that race with Hurricane Fly going the other way in the betting for the big race. Binocular assumed favouritism following the race and he was not even in action over the weekend so all eyes will be on his first run of the season.
Sizing Europe continued his flawless start to the season with his second excellent win at Punchestown, the result only served to confirm his favouritism for the Arkle Challenge Chase. Also running at Punchestown was Tataniano who also won well and is now also being well back for the Arkle, it seems these are the two to keep an eye on for the Arkle at this stage with Sizing Europe particularly impressive so far this season.