With the eve of the 2015 Cheltenham Festival just four weeks away it is surely time for bookmakers to start going non-runner-no-bet on many of the 27 races, as yesterday’s high-class Trials day at Leopardstown saw possibly the final major shake-up in the ante-post markets with the majority of trainers now unwilling to risk their ‘ big guns ‘ so close to the most significant National Hunt meeting of the year.
Before the start of the significant Irish card all talk revolved around the imminent retirement of 19-time British champion jockey Tony McCoy and the great man didn’t disappoint as, after winning the two mile handicap hurdle aboard 4-1 favourite Sort It Out came the record-breaking rider’s first Irish Hennessy Gold Cup victory when, in typically determined fashion, the man referred to simply as AP forced Carlingford Lough into the lead close home to beat the improving Foxrock and Lord Windermere, putting himself into the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup picture in the process.
The nine-year-old son of King’s Theatre is now as short as 8-1 to give McCoy Gold Cup winner number three following Mr Mulligan and Synchronised, providing the champ and owner JP McManus decide to follow that path next month, although Ladbrokes were the least impressed of the leading bookmakers quoting a standout 12-1 behind their 5-2 market leader Silviniaco Conti.
The Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase was expected to go the way of the Willie Mullins-trained Valseur Lido but the mount of Bryan Cooper could not withstand the late challenge of Paul Carberry and Apache Stronghold close home, with the half length winner now expected to head straight to Cheltenham for the JLT Novices Chase for which Boylesports and 888Sport offer the top price of 8-1 while the runner-up was pushed out to 12-1 with the former bookmaker.
An all-the-way victory for Nicholas Canyon in the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle shot Ruby Walsh’s mount to the head of the betting for the Neptune at a best price 15-2 with Racebets although the Authorized gelding is still under consideration for the shorter Supreme and can be backed at 12-1 with Skybet, Coral and William Hill for the race in which stablemate Douvan dominates the market at no bigger than 2-1.
After beating better-fancied stable companion Kalkir in the opening Juvenile hurdle the Willie Mullins-trained Petite Parisienne became the shortest priced entry for that stable in the Triumph Hurdle at the standout 12-1 offered by Betfair Sportsbook in a race currently cominated by Nicky Henderson, responsible for 7-4 favourite Peace And Co and nearest market rival Hargam at a general 7-1.