2019 Cheltenham Festival Clues: 3 Horses To Take Away From The Weekend Action
National Hunt fans were treated to a bumper weekend of top quality action and there were Cheltenham Festival clues aplenty as some of the leading contenders for next month's jumping extravaganza took to the stage.
Clan Des Obeaux and Cyrname were arguably the two most impressive performers on Saturday and both Paul Nicholls-trained contenders will be lively players for notable Grade 1 prizes if they head to Prestbury Park between March 12-15, but we have opted to pick out THREE other horses that left a lasting impression at the weekend, and could be runners that blossom in a few weeks.
Al Dancer (won Betfair Hurdle) - Supreme Novices' Hurdle
Amy Murphy's Kalashnikov bounded to victory in the Betfair Hurdle last season before finishing runner-up to Summerville Boy in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Al Dancer is looking to follow that route, but go one better on March 12.
Al Dancer tanked through the Betfair Hurdle before pulling clear in the closing stages to land the rearranged prize at Ascot, and he was instantly slashed to outright favourite for the Cheltenham Festival curtain-raiser.
He will have to improve again if he is to beat the likes of Fakir D'Oudairies and Angels Breath in the Supreme, but he has an eye-catching cruising speed and is sure to relish the battle coming from the Twiston-Davies yard.
Capone (second in Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle) - Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
Quel Destin was one of eight winners for Paul Nicholls on Saturday, and while the above-mentioned Clan Des Obeaux and Cyrname took most of the plaudits this exciting juvenile booked his spot in the Triumph Hurdle with victory in the Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle at Haydock Park.
However, it was the second that caught the eye with Cheltenham in mind as Charlie Mann's Capone put up a bold effort in defeat, and while the six length defeat showed he won't be classy enough for the Triumph, the Fred Winter could be a race tailor-made for him and at 20/1 he could be a lively player in that market.
Wilde Blue Yonder (second in William Hill Leading Bookmaker in Racing Chase) - Novices' Handicap Chase
Fifth in the 2014 Supreme Novices' Hurdle, Wilde Blue Yonder has failed to build on some early promise shown on a racecourse, but if Alan King's ten-year-old can scrape in at the bottom of the handicap in the Novices' Handicap Chase on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival then he could be a player.
Around a 33/1 shot for that race at the moment, Wilde Blue Yonder is likely going to have to win a race to rise in the ratings to make the cut of the 0-145 contest, but the 132-rated raider put up a decent effort in defeat on Saturday, and could improve over fences as he has only had two runs over the larger obstacles.