What This Weekend Has Meant For The Cheltenham Festival - 25/02/2019

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The Nicky Henderson-trained Angels Breath - favourite for the Supreme Novices Hurdle at the fast-approaching Cheltenham Festival for most of the season, was dealt a severe blow after being defeated for the first time by Southfield Stone at Kempton on Saturday.

Racing in the Dovecote, Angels Breath was given a chance by his trainer to enhance his racecourse knowledge, having only jumped four hurdles in public, after he made his debut in a heavily-hurdle-omitted contest at Ascot on British and stable debut before Christmas.

Alan King's versatile Scarlet Dragon looked a solid 7/2 alternative, but it was Paul Nicholls at it again; who sent the 6yo Southfield Stone to post, looking to first and foremost avenge his disappointing defeat at Taunton last time out.

The grey gelding was turned over at odds of 4/6 at a venue where his record was a perfect three out of three, but got the better of the highly thought of Angels Breath, who as a result, has been eased out to as big as 10/1 with a few firms for his Cheltenham Festival entry.

This result has further consolidated two horses at the top of the betting for the Supreme - both Al Dancer and Fakir D'oudairies who have both respectively shortened.

Angels Breath sits alongside the Colin Tizzard-trained Elixir Du Nutz in the market - one horse in the race known to all to have the crucial Grade One form heading into the race.

On Sunday, Whatswrongwithyou cleaned up at Fontwell for the combination of Nicky Henderson and Nico De Boinville.

The 8yo - sent off the even-money favourite, has moved considerably on the exchanges for the penultimate race of the Festival - the Grade Three Grand Annual Handicap Chase over two-miles.

A price of 12/1 remains with one bookmaker at the time of writing, with all other firms pricing him 10/1 or less.

De Boinville and Henderson of course have several chances in the week with the likes of Altior and Might Bite, and perhaps they could have another here.

Also in West Sussex, Vision Des Flos landed the day's feature in the Grade Two National Spirit Hurdle for Colin Tizzard and Tom Scudamore.

The 6yo - who has put together a solid string of efforts in recent times, looks much more of a contender since stepping back in trip.

He holds good form in the book with some of the best hurdlers around, and could taste further success at Prestbury Park on the horizon, with what his trainer is targeting in the Coral Cup.

Plenty of Irish recruits lead the way in that market, but Vision Des Flos - along with Erick Le Rouge; a winner at Kempton on Saturday, both will fly the flag for the Brits, and the two together have shortened to no bigger than 14/1.

Shantou Flyer - second at last years Festival in the Ultima Handicap Chase, will head to the Foxhunters final after back-to-back wins at Kelso and now Fontwell in Open Hunters' Chases.

With Cheltenham forthcoming, there have not been many other major market movers as a result of racing.

We did receive news early on Monday morning, that Le Richebourg - favourite for the Racing Post Arkle, had been ruled out of the Festival due to a season-ending injury.

You can read more by clicking HERE.

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