If you had said three months ago that the great mare Honeysuckle was unlikely to take part in the Champion Hurdle or that A Dream to Share would be the second favourite in the Champion Bumper – it would be an understatement to say that National Hunt racing fans and pundits would be surprised.
However, that is exactly what has happened, with this season’s jumps racing fixtures already producing many upsets and unexpected results, which has greatly impacted the betting markets in the lead-up to March’s Cheltenham Festival.
Therefore, for those who follow the cheltenham festival tips, read on as we take a look at three of the biggest movers in the betting lines.
The aforementioned Honeysuckle’s chances of securing a dream swansong in the Champion Hurdle took another big hit recently, after the nine-year-old suffered her second consecutive loss in the Grade 1 Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Trainer Henry de Bromhead was hoping his thoroughbred could bounce back from a disappointing performance at Fairyhouse in December – and considering she was going up against strong competition which included the likes of State Man, Honeysuckle’s run in Ireland would’ve acted as a solid yardstick prior to Cheltenham.
It didn’t go as planned, as similarly to her Fairyhouse outing, the mare didn’t have enough in the tank down the stretch, falling out of touch with eventual winner State Man to lose by just shy of five lengths. As a result, the likelihood of Honeysuckle challenging for her third straight Champion Hurdle is highly unlikely. That is represented in the odds, with her widening from 8/1 pre-race to currently sit at 20/1.
Either retirement or Cheltenham’s Mares’ Hurdle are now the favoured options for Honeysuckle according to those in the know – with her firming from 9/1 to 4/1 for the latter.
After going unbeaten in his first six races, Facile Vega was beaten convincingly in the Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival earlier this month. Leading early on, the Willie Mullins-trained horse struggled to keep up with the leading pack and faded out of contention after turning for home.
Although it wasn’t a great showing from the promising six-year-old, his less than stellar run was in large part courtesy of a poor ride from the traditionally reliable jockey Paul Townend. The multiple-time Cheltenham Festival Leading Jockey was heavily criticised for going too fast too early, ensuring that Facile Vega didn’t have the legs up the straight.
As a result, the 2022 Cheltenham Festival Champion Bumper winner is now 5/2 to take home the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle next month, compared to 4/5 pre-race.
After only two previous appearances in this five-year-old’s career prior to his run at the Dublin Racing Festival – John Kiely’s A Dream To Share was still considered somewhat of an unproven commodity.
However, any concerns over his ability to compete with a stronger field of entries was answered in the Grade 2 Future Stars race at Leopardstown this month, with the gelding showing an exciting turn of foot and strong finishing speed to romp home by two-and-three-quarter lengths from the second-placed Fact to File.
On the strength of A Dream To Share’s performance, his odds have been slashed for Cheltenham’s Champion Bumper from 40/1 to 8/1.