Lalor And Sceau Royal The Major Cheltenham Festival Market Movers Following Stellar November Meeting
The three day November Meeting is always one of the highlights of the jumps season and that was the case this weekend as the best in the business gathered at Prestbury Park for a veritable feast of equine action.
Thousands of racegoers crammed into the mecca of national hunt racing for the fixture and they were rewarded with some stunning performances from a wide variety of horses.
The road to the Cheltenham Festival is always a long and winding one but already we are starting to get a picture for March with a number of stars putting their best hooves forward.
The ante-post Festival markets are changing on a daily basis at this time of year and there were a host of eye-catching moves for the notebook during the November extravaganza.
There wasn't a dry eye in the house on Sunday as Lalor stormed to victory in the Arkle trial to give Kayley Woollacott a massive win. The former Aintree bumper winner was having his first start over fences in what looked like a red hot race, but the 6-year-old swatted the field aside in stunning circumstances to mark himself out as a genuine contender for the Arkle itself in March.
A remarkable jump at the last was the eye catching moment from Lalor and few can argue with his new price of 6/1, from 25/1, for the big 2m novice chase at Cheltenham in the spring.
Also on Sunday, Sceau Royal caught the eye with an impressive Shloer Chase win on his first start since January for Alan King. A Grade 1 winning novice chaser, the 6-year-old produced a lovely round of jumping to put himself in the frame for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, with one firm cutting the horse form 25/1 into 14/1 for the Wednesday feature at the Festival.
The Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle can throw up a good winner on occasion meaning attention will now turn to see how Elixir De Nutz progresses after his success in the race at the weekend. The Colin Tizzard trained hurdler made all in a contest which was affected by low sun to go one better than when 2nd to Thomas Darby over course and distance last month.
It looked a bit of a muddling race which is always hard to judge but the winner has now run two solid races at Cheltenham this season and as such was installed at a reasonably priced 33/1 shot for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
Paul Nicholls will have left Cheltenham a pleased man on Saturday thanks to the performance of Ibis Du Rheu in winning the mallardjewellers.com Novices' Chase. The 7-year-old joined the likes of Thistlecrack and Black Corton as recent winners of the 3m affair and it was certainly a taking performance from a horse who clearly relishes the test of the bigger obstacles.
A price of 25/1 for the National Hunt Chase in the spring looks fair for a horse who clearly has plenty of stamina under the bonnet.
The feature race of the meeting went to Baron Alco as he stormed up the hill to claim the BetVictor Gold Cup in excellent fashion. The Gary Moore trained horse emerged from a contest full of drama to win with something in hand, and a step into graded company now looks the only option for a likeable horse who hasn't been out of the first two on his last seven starts.
The Ryanair Chase will be a big ask for the 7-year-old but he looks capable of making his presence felt at a course that suits and interested punters can now back the horse at 33/1 for that race.
Finally, Josies Orders once again confirmed himself as one of the best in the business over the banks as he won the Cross Country Chase on Friday for Enda Bolger. The JP McManus owned star won at Cheltenham for a 4th time in good style with horses like Tiger Roll and Fact Of The Matter well beaten on the day.
Unsurprisingly, the Cross Country Chase at the Festival is the long term target for Josies Orders with one firm happy enough to cut the horse from 10/1 into 6/1 for that contest as a result of this latest success.