- Al Dancer - 4/1 Supreme Novices' Hurdle
- Glen Forsa - 9/1 Arkle Novices' Chase
- Lisnagar Oscar - 10/1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle
With the rescheduled Betfair Hurdle and Grade 2 Denman Chase added to the Ascot card last Saturday, there were plenty of big Cheltenham betting eye-catchers this weekend, the big Festival now just three weeks away.
New Supreme Novices' Hurdle Favourite
Al Dancer is the new Supreme Novices Hurdle favourite, a best priced 4/1 with BoyleSports, after powering clear in the Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.
One big advantage that Al Dancer has over some of his rivals is the fact he's already got a course and distance win to his name, so is proven at Cheltenham, and is clearly on an upward curve.
Recently Betfair Hurdle winners Kalashnikov and My Tent Or Yours have gone close to winning the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, and I fully expect Al Dancer to be bang there for all that his Cheltenham odds have shortened drastically.
Getaway Trump made late headway in the same race, showing he should relish a step back up in trip, especially considering the pace wasn't all that strong and the race suited horses raced prominently. I think he's still got a bit of learning to do though, so at the moment he wouldn't be on my betting shortlist for anything at Cheltenham.
Clan Des Obeaux Enhances Gold Cup Claims
Trainer Paul Nicholls landed a huge five-timer at Ascot on Saturday, with two big wins in the Grade 1 Ascot Chase with Cyrname and the Grade 2 Denman Chase with Clan des Obeaux.
Clan des Obeaux took another step towards the Cheltenham Gold Cup with his impressive win in that 3m contest. He's now best priced 5/1 with Betfair for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, after toying with the opposition on Saturday.
There's very little chinks in the King George VI Chase winner's armour either - he travels superbly well during his races and rarely puts a foot wrong in the jumping department.
I have no issues with him returning to Cheltenham unlike others, he's handled the course before and some of his best performances have been at the track. He's a much improved horse now and jockey Harry Cobden has found the key to him.
The way he travels and jumps will take him right into the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and I can't see him out of the frame, my only doubt is he might find a stronger stayer too tough up the hill at the finish.
Cyrname is unlikely to run anywhere at the Cheltenham Festival with his need for a flat, right-handed track not fulfilled by Cheltenham's left-handed undulations.
Lisnagar Oscar Stakes Cheltenham Claim
Lisnagar Oscar absolutely blitzed the field in the Grade 2 Prestige Novices' Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday, pulling away by a massive 10-lengths at the end of the 3m race. It was a strong field too, with eight of his rivals being rated above 130.
You can back Lisnagar Oscar at 10/1 for the Albert Barlett Novices' Hurdle with Bet365 and with his experience and proven stamina, that looks a good bet. He was previously beaten by Rockpoint in another Albert Bartlett trial at Cheltenham in December, but he was conceding race experience that day and the race panned out to suit Rockpoint more.
However, the tables were turned this weekend as Lisnagar Ocar destroyed that rival and more. He's got that perfect mix of stamina and class and he's already proven he's tough in a battle, after seeing out the highly-regarded Dickie Diver at Chepstow in a novice hurdle in January.
Glen Forsa Leaps Into Arkle Picture
Friday's action saw the rescheduled Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices' Chase run at Sandown and a new chasing star emerge with Glen Forsa comfortably beating his main rival Kalashnikov.
The win took Glen Forsa's record to 3/3 over fences, with wins over 3m, 2m4f and now 2m. There really is no stopping him at the moment, with his unbelievable jumping from the front causing trouble for all of his rivals so far.
Despite starting out in handicaps, he really has progressed to be a serous weapon over and trainer Mick Channon now has a tough decision on where to run at Cheltenham. For me, the Grade 1 Arkle Novices' Chase over 2m looks the weaker of the novice chases at the Festival, and with his guaranteed stamina over further, they can really pile on the pressure from the front.
I believe he's still underrated because of the route he's taken to get here, but I find it hard to see a rival being able to pass him turning for home. He's best priced 9/1 with William Hill for the Arkle and, considering there's question marks about some of his rivals, that looks a fantastic bet.