It was a weekend for favourites at Punchestown, as a number of big name contenders made sure of their 2019 Cheltenham Festival credentials.
Apple’s Jade looks set to go for the Champion Hurdle, while Min and Envoi Allen shored up their respective bids for the Ryanair Chase and the Champion Bumper.
Let us take you through five more of the weekend’s big movers in our Road to Cheltenham…
Bellshill – Gold Cup – 14/1
The 2019 renewal of the Irish Gold Cup wasn’t exactly a classic, with six non-runners leaving just Bellshill, Road To Respect, The Storyteller and Outlander to compete for the prize.
Willie Mullins’ raider showed great perseverance to outstay the favourite by a short-head. After a nice run in the Savills Chase over Christmas, he seems to be coming to the boil at the right time.
He’ll face tougher competition in the Cheltenham showpiece, although his current 14/1 odds still leave plenty of scope for each-way backers.
Sir Erec – Triumph Hurdle – 9/4 from 7/1
A brilliant Dublin Racing Festival for Joseph O’Brien was capped off by the performance of new 9/4 Triumph Hurdle favourite Sir Erec in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle.
The four-year-old made it two from two over sticks with a comprehensive all-the-way win to leave Gardens Of Babylon trailing home 6l behind.
It was the raider’s first Grade 1 success and one that has us purring given the trainer is largely credited for Ivanovich Gorbatov’s Triumph success for father Aidan in 2016.
Klassical Dream – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – 8/1 from 16/1
Klassical Dream showed guts, determination and guile to edge out stablemate Aramon in the Pharma Novice Hurdle. Those qualities will hold him in good stead ahead of the Supreme.
Mullins’ charge is the new 8/1 second-favourite for the Cheltenham opener, with jockey Ruby Walsh believing the five-year-old can improve again with softer ground underfoot.
Aramon also looks set to go for the Supreme and is available to back at 10/1.
Defi Du Seuil – JLT Novice Chase – 6/1 from 11/1
One day we’ll get it right when it comes to Defi Du Seuil. After backing him in the Dipper Chase last month, we deserted Phillip Hobbs’ charge in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase on Saturday.
Now we’ve learned never to underestimate the six-year-old, who dug in strongly to reverse form with Lostintranslation and end the unbeaten record of Vinndication over 2m 4f.
The trainer hasn’t given an indication over whether the Arkle or the JLT will be the aim, with our traders going 6/1 joint-favourite about him for the latter.
Le Richebourg – Arkle Chase – 4/1 from 6/1
Looking for Festival banker material? Le Richebourg could be it. Another from the O’Brien clan, the six-year-old stormed to the top of the Cheltenham Arkle betting after a 7l win in the Irish Arkle on Saturday.
The Network gelding travelled strongly throughout before unleashing a lovely turn of pace to leave the likes of Us And Them, Mengli Khan and Duca De Thaix trailing in his wake.
Un De Sceaux, Douvan and Footpad have all done the English and Irish Arkle double since 2015. Le Richebourg could be the next name on that fine list after going 4/1 for the Festival.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication