Summer & Natalma
Jockey Club Derby
Prince of Wales Stakes
Despite much speculation, the Cheltenham Festival did go ahead at the start of March, with endless sporting events now being cancelled following this. One that could be next is Royal Ascot, with many people already looking at the Royal Ascot betting guide, which anticipation building. They have already confirmed that if it does go ahead then it would be behind closed doors but this would be a major positive for the industry, which is taking a big hit.
The Cheltenham Festival is the pinnacle of the National hunt season and as expected there was again a large number of performances worth noting. So here we cover the horses that are worth following moving forward.
Shishkin was the ante-post favourite for the Supreme Novices Hurdle on the opening day of the meeting but continued to drift on the run up to the race. Eventually going off at 6/1, and everything that could go wrong in running did, but he was still able to win. This included being squeezed up, on top of several mistakes and not being able to get a clear run. Despite this, he was able to challenge from the last and battle on well to win by a head from the Gordon Elliott-trained Abacadabras. He is clearly a horse to follow moving forward and could just be another star. The Nicky Henderson-trained runner is now the general 5/1 favourite for next season's Arkle Chase.
Another impressive winner on the opening day for the Henderson team was the mare, Epatante. She went into the Champion Hurdle as the ante-post favourite and was heavily supported on the run up to the race, eventually being sent off at 2/1. Epatante travelled ominously well throughout the race, and cruised into the contest moving to the last, before only needing to be pushed out to assert and win by three lengths from Sharjah. There is little doubt that it is a weak division and if she returns in similar form next year, then she is going to take all the beating. She is the general 9/2 favourite to defend her title next season.
All the talk prior to the Cheltenham Festival was about Tiger Roll and him winning his fifth Festival race, but it turned out to be all about Easysland in the Cross Country. The French horse came into the race having won his previous six races in succession, that included a seven-length victory at the track. He travelled well throughout the race and led from the 20th flight. He was then pushed clear and ridden approaching the last, before staying on powerfully to clear away from the defending champion. Easysland was a remarkable 17-length winner, with a further 18 lengths back to the third placed horse Out Sam. Easysland was awarded an RPR of 171, which is incredible and puts him as a horse to follow moving forward.
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