Another weekend gone results on us drawing ever closer to the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, and we can't wait!
We start with Altior's inevitable success in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday. Despite jumping markedly left on a couple of occasions, it was an easy victory for last season's Champion Chaser, who has not really moved in the market to retain that very crown.
Before the weekend he was already no bigger than 1/2, and really that price proves that his biggest enemy on the second day of the Festival is the obstacles and not the equine rivals that show up. It appears nothing can beat him now making it seventeen in a row, keeping him the shortest-price favourite ahead of this year's big meeting in March.
The most competitive action came from Haydock, boasting as many as four graded races - all Grade Twos. Firstly, Mister Fisher boosted his claims for the novice events at the Cheltenham Festival with yet another win; this time in a Supreme Trial, and that appears to be the direction he is heading.
Mister Fisher remains around a 10/1 shot for the real Supreme - with still an entry in the Ballymore open to use. Ben Pauling's Bright Forecast - who was not disgraced two lengths down in second, holds decent each way claims, priced between 25/1 and 33/1 for the curtain raiser at Prestbury Park.
Global Citizen got his Champion Hurdle credentials back on track with a win in the trial, fending on the rallying Silver Streak and Western Ryder. Ben Pauling with another Festival hopeful, only managed fourth with this 7yo in the Christmas Hurdle to Verdana Blue, but the drop in grade proved much more realistic.
He has been cut back down to a 25/1 shot for the big race on the opening day, having been as big as 40/1 before the off. Pauling may decide that the Grade Three County Hurdle on Gold Cup day may be more sensible - for which he is priced at around 10/1.
There were also impressive wins for Thomas Darby and the veteran Royal Vacation at Taunton on Saturday. Darby looks to get back amongst the market principles for the Supreme and is back down to no bigger than 20/1, whilst Jean Bishop's old boy got back to winning ways in the Portman Cup, and his options remain open.
One major market mover from Ireland on Sunday came from Thurles in a Grade Two Chase over 2m4f, and Tout Est Permis might of left it later under Sean Flanagan, but got the job done and has since propelled himself into 25/1 for the Gold Cup after a bit of market support.
Camelia De Cotte was also a smart winner of a Mares Novice Chase, and with no equivalent at the Cheltenham Festival, Willie Mullins remains open to where she goes.
Trials day this weekend at Cheltenham, so we are sure there will be several big movers this time next week!