Road to Cheltenham: Goshen storms back into the Champion Hurdle mix with Kingwell success
Our man David Stevens looks back over the weekend’s action
With just over three weeks to go until the start of the Cheltenham Festival, time is running out for contenders to book their place at the biggest four days of the jumps season.
That was certainly the case for Goshen, who had failed to shine since his unlucky defeat in the Triumph Hurdle nearly 12 months ago. However, Gary Moore’s charge returned to winning ways in Wincanton’s Kingwell Hurdle in such emphatic style, he is now the 9/2 third favourite for the Champion Hurdle, having been a 20/1 chance prior to the race. Only the two mares, Honeysuckle and Epatante, are ahead of him in the betting for the opening day highlight.
At Ascot, Dashel Drasher gave connections their biggest career success when landing the Grade 1 Ascot Chase. It earned the eight-year-old a 16/1 quote for the Ryanair Chase, although Aintree could be his next destination.
On Sunday the action moved to Newbury, and the rearranged meeting claimed by the cold weather the previous weekend, and Navan. The Denman Chase failed to provide any WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup clues, with the winner, Secret Investor, and runner-up, Clan Des Obeaux, not entered at Cheltenham, while Lostintranslation was eased to 25/1 from 16/1 for next month’s Blue Riband after he was well beaten in the same race.
However, the Game Spirit Chase, over two miles, certainly did have an impact on the Gold Cup market, as last season’s RSA Chase winner, Champ, ran what looked a really encouraging race to finish second on his long-awaited return to action over a trip far short of his best.
Another Newbury winner who will surely head to Cheltenham with a big chance is Soaring Glory. The Jonjo O’Neill-trained novice looked anything but when spread-eagling the field in the feature handicap hurdle, and he looks good value for his 10/1 quote for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Finally, Navan’s feature, the Boyne Hurdle, was won by Beacon Edge, who was cut to 16/1 from 33/1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle, but all eyes were on Tiger Roll in the Grade 2 contest. The dual Grand National winner appeared to run a disappointing race, and while he remains 16/1 co/favourite for the Aintree marathon, and is reportedly still on target for the Cross Country race at Cheltenham, it surely would only take one more heavy defeat for connections to retire their star.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.