With only 3 weeks to go until the Cheltenham Festival 2017, Dominic Kent takes a look back at the noteworthy performances from the weekend!
JEZKI BEATEN, YANWORTH DOES ENOUGH AGAIN.
Where some horses upped their game this weekend and proved maybe you shouldn’t count them out already, others disappointed where they were expected to thrive.
Jezki was a huge favourite before the race and all week building up to the Red Mills but just couldn’t find that extra gear to catch Bryan Cooper on Tombstone who ran an excellent race despite obliterating the final fence.
Unsurprisingly, this has caused a shake up in the ante-post markets with Yanworth looking the pick of the JP McManus horses heading into the festival.
Yanworth ran another moderate race in the Kingwell but had enough to hold of the catching pair of Ch’tibello and Sceau Royal who both ran good races to get up and put the odds-on favourite under pressure. Yanworth appeared to only get into his groove with half a furlong to go but looks to have easily shaken off the muscle injury that kept him out of Sandown.
More of a job done than a job well done and Yanworth remains 4/1 for the Champion Hurdle.
CUE CARD RUTHLESS, VIEUX LION ROUGE TAKES THE NATIONAL TRIAL
There was only one grade 1 horse in this race and there are no prizes for any form of bet on the supreme Cue Card. Dropping back to 2m5f, the only hesitancy was the shorter trip and Cue Card stepped up the with challenge and blew away the opposition.
Always on the heels of the early leaders, Cue Card finely jumped into the lead with 4 to go and never looked back. 15 lengths the official winning distance but an easy trot to the line after establishing an unassailable lead is more accurate.
Over at Haydock, any number of good horses could have taken the Grand National Trial. Gas Line Boy set his stall out from the off and tried to lead the pack the entire way around the 3m4F and only fell short with 3 left to jump.
Vintage Clouds looked ready to challenge before making a mistake and not having enough to challenge Blaklion or Vieux Lion Rouge who took up the opportunity to take on and get away from Gas Line Boy. Vieux Lion Rouge pressed on too much for the closing Blaklion to take a superb win at 8/1 with the front two 18 lengths clear of the rest of the pack.
Vieux Lion Rouge now goes to Aintree and Blaklion is confirmed for the National having bought no shame to his record and both have come crashing down in the ante-post markets.
As the clock ticks down to the opening race of the festival, the markets have had another shake up and punters remain all at sea in finding a banker.