Cheltenham Festival Market Movers - 08/02/21

Ballyadam - Supreme Novices Hurdle - 9/1 from 16/1

An interesting market mover for plenty of reasons. Despite not winning over the weekend, the Cheveley Park gelding did put in probably the most eye catching losers performance. Travelling well coming around the home turn, he looked as thought he was going to mount a serious challenge to the eventual winner Appreciate It before a slight blunder at the last hurdle. If he'd jumped that well, he probably wouldn't have won the race but he'd have been a lot closer than he was in the end.

He's already won a Grade 1 novice hurdle this season so he's understandably quite easy to back each way for the Supreme next month.

Energumene - Arkle Chase - 9/4 from 6/1

Quite comfortably one of the statements of the weekend, Energumene enhanced his claims as the main rival to Shishkin in next months Arkle with a first gear rout in the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown. Hitting the front around four furlongs out, he extended his lead on the bridle and despite jumping right at the final fence, he was never troubled and cruised to a 10 length victory.

Shishkin hasn't put a foot wrong over the larger obstacles so far but after the Willie Mullins trained geldings performance on Saturday, the Arkle looks to have gone from a one horse race to a two horse race.

Honeysuckle - Champion Hurdle - 9/4 from 6/1

Oh she's a very good mare. A lot has been made of just how exposed Honeysuckle is in the build up to Cheltenham this year and whether she will cope with the step up in class and the two mile distance of the Champion Hurdle, well, she answered all of those questions with an emphatic performance in the Irish Champion Hurdle on Saturday.

It was no surprise to see the bookies run scared after the performance with her odds slashing from as big as 6/1 for the race in to clear 9/4 favouritism. On paper, her biggest rival is fellow mare Epatante but she looked out of sorts last time out and with Honeysuckle's unbeaten record still in tact, she's the one to beat in the biggy.

Gaillard Du Mesnil - Ballymore Novices Hurdle - 10/3 from 9/1

The Ballymore Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham looks set to be one of the most open races of the festival this year and over the weekend we saw a real genuine contender as the Willie Mullins trained Gaillard Du Mesnil made it two straight wins over timber. Off the bridle heading in to the straight, he didn't really look as though he was making much ground on stable mate Stattler but approaching the last, the penny dropped and he rocketed home to a five length victory.

It's still too early to tell how he will cope with the Cheltenham hill but going off Saturdays performance he'll certainly be in the mix.

Monkfish - RSA Chase - 10/11 from 2/1

111111, the form of Monkfish since his hurdling debut back in 2019. The Willie Mullins charge continued his incredible form in the Flogas Novices Chase never seeing another rival in the process.

He was already fairly well fancied for the RSA however that hasn't stopped punters making the most of the 2/1 odds prior to Sundays race and that support has seen him backed in to odds on now.

It's certainly going to take something special to beat him going off this performance.

Sporting John - RSA Chase - 14/1 from 66/1

One of the surprises of the weekend came in the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown as the JP McManus owned Sporting John returned to winning ways with a clinical performance. Second behind Shan Blue approaching the last, he showed an incredible turn of foot on the flat to get off the mark over the larger obstacles at the second time of asking.

He was available at as big as 66/1 for the RSA before the race but it looks like punters have taken the e/w punt on him and he's now available as short as 14/1.

Worth a little e/w score?

Kilcruit - Champion Bumper - 6/4 from 10/1

Easily the most eyeopening performance of the weekend, Kilcruit landed the Grade 2 Goffs Future Stars bumper in what can only be described as emphatic fashion for Willie Mullins.

A four lengths second on bumper debut last year, he hosed up by nine lengths at Navan at the start of December and he then followed that up on Saturday with a simply remarkable performance.

Sent off at 11/8 and held up mid field, he literally cantered past the front runners when straightening up for home only to be pulled up on the line. What made the performance so spectacular was the fact that every rival in the race had already won a bumper. This wasn't a contest against 10 other donkeys, this was a contest against 10 decent horses with massive careers ahead of them.

The performance has seen him smashed in to 6/4 from 10/1 for the Champion Bumper next month and do not be surprised to see him go off around odds on in the race, he looked that good!

Native River - Gold Cup - 16/1 from 40/1

Without doubt the most popular winner of the weekend, Native River rolled back the years with a typically hard performance to cause a relatively big shock in the Cotswold Chase.

Marred by inactivity in recent times which has seen him run just seven times in the past three years, the Colin Tizzard veteran took the race to the Cotswold Chase field and showed that trademark staying power to run away with the victory by nine lengths.

With no signs of the weather improving at the moment, it's likely the ground will be on the soft side of good for the big festival so it's no surprise to see him backed in to as short as 16/1 from 40/1 for the Gold Cup.

Al Boum Photo is still undoubtedly the horse to beat but at odds of 16/1, you'd be mad not to look into Native River repeating his 2018 success in the race from a place point of view.

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