Cheltenham and Aintree National Hunt Weekend Review

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As Flat racing in Britain draws to a close the National Hunt scene begins to hit top gear and there were plenty of clues for the season ahead to be gleaned from the action which took place at Cheltenham on Friday/Saturday and Aintree on Sunday.

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Highlight on the Friday card at Prestbury Park was the Novices’ Chase which featured several promising young chasers including Champion Hurdle sixth Sceau Royal and Movewiththetimes who found only the well-handicapped Ballyandy too good in the valuable Betfair Hurdle back in February. The former was sent off the 11-8 favourite on the back of his chasing debut victory over fellow rival Ballyhill at Warwick earlier in the month but the mount of Daryl Jacob found the concession of 5lb to the Dan Skelton-trained North Hill Harvey just too much, going down by a neck with Movewiththetimes a promising fourth on his first start for over eight months.

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The winner ( a 145-rated hurdler ) is a best price 33-1 for the Racing Post Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival with the runner-up and fourth available at 25-1 with most bookmakers.  All three jumped well over the stiff Cheltenham fences and look sure to do well over the bigger obstacles.

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Saturday’s card begin with a victory for the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Cogry who stayed on too strongly for Singlefarmpayment and Doing Fine over the 3m 1f trip and with stamina being this son of King’s Theatre’s forte he could easily pick up one of the Nationals before the end of the season. Runner-up in this year’s Scottish National the mount of Sam Twiston-Davies can be backed at 40-1 with Stan James for the Aintree version next year.

Cogry’s stablemate Foxtail Hill provided connections with a chase double on the card and the bold-jumping all the way winner is likely to head back to Prestbury Park next month for the valuable BetVictor Gold Cup for which the eight-year-old is a standout  20-1 with Betfair Sportsbook. Aintree’s 188Bet Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase on Sunday developed into a duel between the two greys, Smad Place and Cloudy Dream, with the former coming home by three quarters of a length at 12-1. This race should put the runner-up spot on for the BetVictor Gold Cup and looks excellent value at the 16-1 on offer with bet365, Paddy Power and Coral.

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