The Top Five Market Movers For The Festival This Season

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The markets in certain races have been forever moving around with steamers and drifters near enough every day but the Stayers Hurdle market has been one of uncertainty with plenty of horses being made legible to race and the bookmakers not knowing who to price up as favourite.

However, over the last week or so they have seemed to narrow it down to the Emma Lavelle trained Paisley Park who is now the strong favourite for the Grade 1 hurdle race by a clear margin.

This seven year old from a small yard has been superb this season in all of his races and is still unbeaten landing all four of his contests including a Grade 1 last time out.

He started his season off at Aintree in a Handicap hurdle and went on to win in some style and it looked like his trainer underestimated how good he could be this season.

(Credit Racing TV)

He was then stepped up in trip on his next run at Haydock to three miles in Grade 3 company and revelled in the extra half a mile and went on to land the spoils against some decent and proven horses.

Again, on his third start he was stepped up in Grade again at his now preferred three miles and landed the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle against other black type winning horses and nudged himself onto the radar for the Stayers Hurdle.

His last run out came at Cheltenham in what is known unofficially as the Stayers Hurdle Trial and against opponents who will be heading to the festival in the same race and he ran away with the field .

He made light work of some good geldings, handled the track really well and stayed on up the hill under no pressure. All these runs this season have seen him moved along consistently since September in the Stayers Hurdle Market and from his furthest price of 33/1 he is now the current and clear market leader at 2/1.


The next substantial market mover for the Cheltenham festival comes in the first race on the Friday in the Triumph Hurdle where plenty of juvenile runners are set to go to post.

Young dual purpose trainer Joseph O'Brien needs no explanation for how much he has achieved in the sport at such a young age both being a trainer and a jockey and this season is looking for his first festival winner.

He has a few runners who could go to post in this race but the biggest mover and horse who currently leads the market is the J P McManus owned Sir Erec.

This four year old gelding only turned to hurdles this season after running at a fair standard the season before on the flat, but has now found his calling and looks a really progressive type.

(Credit Racing TV)

His first race over hurdles came at Leopardstown and he made a very pleasing start finishing first out of a field of 28 in a maiden contest. He showed good stamina over the two miles and an even more pleasing sharp turn of foot.

From there, last weekend he really laid down the gauntlet to the rest of the juvenile hurdling division when putting in a breath taking performance at the Dublin Racing Festival.

He ran in the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle against similar horses he had originally beat but this time did it more emphatically and became the horse to beat in the Triumph at Cheltenham.

From the start of the season where he was a bit of an unknown entity he was priced at 25/1 to win the Triumph Hurdle, but after these superb performances at Leopardstown he is the current market leader at a general 2/1.


Next up is the Nicky Henderson trained OK Corral who this season is having his first year over the bigger obstacles after last season being a smart type over hurdles.

The J P McManus owned nine year old has been a tricky customer to deal with after suffering for along time with injury and missing a lot of his career.

Last season he tried to make up for this and did look a nice hurdler finishing second out of 20 runners in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

However, this year he has turned to the larger obstacles and looks to be a really nice chaser from his two starts to date.

His first came at Plumpton in what was a weak contest but gave Henderson the ability to see how much potential he held and he went on to score making some jumping blunders but showing he still had the stamina to go the distance.

(Credit At The Races)

His next race at Warwick was a step up to Listed company and again not in the most fearsome of company but on this day it was a much more well rounded performance where he had learned from his mistakes at Plumpton and went on to win the race with ease.

From this race, which saw him ridden by jockey Derek O'Connor who is thought to be on board the nine year old at the festival, he started to be backed heavily and got smashed in for the National Hunt Chase.

At the start of the season he was out at 33/1 for the contest at Prestbury Park but from his two runs over fences, especially his latest he has warranted a stream of support and now you will be lucky to get 3/1 for the Gelding.


The penultimate market mover of the five see's one of the big talking points currently in the sport and the latest to crop up as a steamer in the betting for the Grade 1 Champion Hurdle.

Super mare Apple's Jade for trainer Gordon Elliott has just been out of this world so far this campaign and there has always been speculation as to what race she will be heading in at the festival.

Elliott and Gigginstown owners Eddie and Michael O'Leary all season have been steering her towards the Grade 1 OLBG Mares hurdle which she won back in 2017 and finished a tame third in last years edition.

But due to her recent run over 2 miles there seems to be a huge change of plan which has seen her odds for the Champion Hurdle go from 20/1 to 7/4 in places for her to land the race.

The seven year old didn't have the greatest overall campaign last year due to her being in season around the Cheltenham Festival but this season she has well and truly shaken that off and looks a different animal.

Her first run of the season came back in November in the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle at Navan and she went on to blitz the field in embarrassing fashion over 2 and a half miles.

apples jade hatton grace hurdles

Over the same distance at Grade 1 level she very much did the same at Fairyhouse in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle, leaving the field for dead and extending her Mares Hurdle claims.

Elliott then over the Christmas period stepped her up to three miles at Leopardstown in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle to see how she could deal with the step up in trip and seeing if there was potential to run her in the stayers and again she was marvellous, leaving the rest of the field behind and giving her connections a good headache.

Her latest run then just threw all plans for Cheltenham up in the air as she was sent over two miles in the Irish Champion Hurdle and arguably gave her best performance to date.

She beat the field by 16 lengths and now forced her connections hand to have to run her in the Champion hurdle at the festival.

This was confirmed by trainer Gordon Elliott and from there she moved from 20/1 to 2/1, 7/4 in places which is remarkable.

The Mares Hurdle, which was her original plan saw her before that race at Leopardstown at 5/4 favourite and she has now drifted to 4/1 meaning the Champion Hurdle at the festival could be one of the greatest renewals in history.


The final substantial market mover that is worth some note for the festival comes from another one of J P McManus' horses and Champ looks to be a superb talent over hurdles for his connections.

This novice only started his hurdles campaign in 2018 after having two good bumper runs back in 2017 that showed clear signs that he could turn into a special National Hunt horse.

In the early parts of last year he was sent over obstacles for the first time and gave some pleasing runs in Class 3 and Class 4 competitions finishing second behind a very useful chaser and gaining a win on his second ever outing at Perth.

That was very much it for his 2017/2018 season, but this year the seven year old who is named after one of the greatest jockeys to ever live in A P Mccoy, is unbeaten.


On December 1st he was let loose in a Class 2 with Nicky Henderson giving him a clear opportunity to show how good he really is and he went on to dominate a 15 strong field who for the most part have gone on to frank this form.

He was then sent back to Newbury over the Christmas period to compete against some good horses in his first Grade 1 contest in the Challow Novices Hurdle and again he stepped up to the plate and landed the black type race.

This has seen him throughout the season get nudged along consistently for the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices hurdle on the Wednesday of the festival.

The gelding at the start of this campaign could be seen as big as 33/1 to land the spoils at Cheltenham but now has been backed into favourite and will not be seen above 7/2 or 3/1 in places.

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