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Cheltenham Weekend Review: Cheltenham Provides Plenty Of Festival Clues

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The 2018/19 Jumps season got into full swing over the weekend with three days of high class national hunt action from Cheltenham starting with Friday’s card and the reappearance of reigning Grand National winner Tiger Roll.

Gordon Elliott’s three-time festival hero, despite finishing only fourth in the Glenfarclas Chase, the son of Authorized made a pleasing start to the current campaign. A top price 25-1 to become the first dual winner of the world’s most famous steeplechase since Red Rum in the 1970’s the eight-year-old looks a good bet for a fourth festival victory at the 4-1 available with Betvictor and Paddy Power for a repeat in the Cross Country Chase.

The two and a half mile novice chase produced a great finish with just over a length covering the first four home headed by the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Count Meribel.

The narrow third Mr Whipped could prove a horse to follow with this run under his belt while White Moon looked a big danger when coming down at the last and a big future awaits the grey son of Sholokhov.

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Only six of the eighteen starters completed the course in Saturday’s feature – the BetVictor Gold Cup – with the first two home Baron Alco and Frodon bowling along in front and keeping out of trouble. Rather Be, Kalondra and Ballyandy all have a decent prize within them granted better luck in the future.

Previous Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree looked something like the horse of old with a gallant third under top weight in the extended 3m 3f BetVictor.com Handicap Chase and once the ground eases could well be a force to be reckoned with once again.

On Sunday the Kayley Woollacott-trained Lalor shot towards the head of the betting for the Racing Post Arkle ( 8-1 with bet365, William Hill and Boylesports ) when easily beating a field of promising novices in the race Registered as the November Novices’ Chase. Thirty five minutes later it was the turn of one of last season’s top two mile novice chasers – Sceau Royal – who had to miss this year’s festival with a suspensory problem.

The six-year-old put in a spectacular round of jumping under jockey Daryl Jacob and had little trouble seeing off northern raider Simply Red on the run-in. The 16-1 offered by Ladbrokes for the Champion Chase could prove a massive price come March should favourite Altior fail to perform.

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