What This Weekend Has Meant For The Cheltenham Festival - 18/02/2019

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What This Weekend Has Meant For The Cheltenham Festival

With three weeks to go until the Cheltenham Festival, trainers are beginning to finalise their options for the selected races with their own stable stars.

For some, many avenues may remain undecided, but after the weekend's racing results the picture for everyone is vastly becoming clearer by the day.

We will start with one of our three weekend eyecatchers; Cyrname, who absolutely cooked the field in the Ascot Chase.

The 7yo followed up his impressive win in a Handicap in Berkshire back in January, by blitzing them from the front end yet again.

On the turn for home, his lead was reduced as the opposition closed in, but it was merely Cobden in the saddle buying time for a breather.

Sent off a 3/1 chance, he jumped the last superbly - as he did all way round, and began to draw right away impressively, scoring by seventeen lengths and thus opening up his Cheltenham Festival options.

He looks bound for a place in the Ryanair Chase, to repeat his feat over a left-handed track - which he has struggled sometimes in the past, but the bookies are taking no chances with him and he cannot be found bigger than 4/1.

Min remains at 5/1 as his future is undecided, whilst Monalee for Henry De Bromhead - also a winner this weekend in Ireland, has shortened to sit at 7/1.

Waiting Patiently has eased out to a best-price of 10/1, after his first defeat over fences when standing up.

Also on a bumper afternoon at the Berkshire venue, was the rearranged Betfair fixtures from last week at Newbury, which were called off due to the outbreak of equine influenza.

Clan Des Obeaux cemented his claims to be a leading player in next month's Gold Cup with a simple success in the Denman Chase, over the grey Terrefort who made much of the running.

The King George VI Chase winner made short work of his three rivals, and was handed the initiative before the race even began with the notable absence of Native River.

The two are set to now clash and represent the best of Britain, with the Irish recruits heading over to Prestbury Park in the coming weeks.

The 7yo was one of five winners for Nicholls at Ascot on Saturday, and remains around the 6/1 mark for the Gold Cup - not enough for an each way bet, but more for an outright selection.

Al Dancer won the day's other big contest at the royal venue - the Betfair Hurdle, extending his unbeaten run over hurdles to four for Nigel Twiston-Davies.

After matching his impressive display at Prestbury Park back in December, he has now since opened up as the 4/1 favourite for the Sky Bet Supreme, leapfrogging both Faki D'oudairies and Angels Breath.

Quel Destin and Road To Rome were both movers as a result of their respective displays at Haydock on Saturday.

Quel Destin - who had won his last four for trainer Paul Nicholls including a Grade One, looks set to lead the campaign for the UK in the Triumph Hurdle next month.

The 4yo made most under Sean Bowen at Haydock's long galloping track, and was always in command.

Torpillo disappointed - finishing last of the four, but the headline maker was Quel Destin, who will go off second favourite for the Triumph behind Sir Erec - should Fakir Doudairies head for the Supreme.

Road To Rome meanwhile has been a revelation in the Hunters Chase division for JJ O'Shea, after winning his fourth chase this year.

Again made the running and was never really challenged, as Ballotin faded on the home straight, Sam Waley-Cohen collected first prize honours having previously been letdown in the National trial with Impulsive Star's late withdrawal due to a mix up in paperwork.

The 9yo who was around a 25/1 chance for the Foxhunters final at Cheltenham after his two wins at Ludlow, is now in at 7/1, having easily got the better of last year's winner Pacha Du Polder.

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