FEW trainers are as strong in the novice hurdle division as David Pipe. The Liquidator has already established his claims as a leading Cheltenham Festival fancy. And on Saturday Kings Palace shot to favouritism for the Albert Bartlett after a facile victory in at the International meeting at Cheltenham. I loved the way this boy jumped. He gained ground at the flights and made it all look so very easy.
The bookies were also impressed and BetVictor cut him from 14/1 into 5s for the Albert Bartlett on the Friday of the Festival. Don’t forget, BetVictor have retained their excellent Non Runner Free Bet offer that went down a storm last season.
Kings Palace demolished a useful field and the five-year-old had his seven rivals spread out at the finish. The winning margin over the runner-up, 25/1 chance Masters Hill, was 14 lengths, with another 19 lengths to the third Potters Cross.
Jockey Tom Scudamore could barely conceal his enthusiasm for the horse, saying: “Kings Palace is very exciting. He is able to use his excellent jumping to create forward momentum and is a horse who fills you with confidence. He is just a good horse, a high-quality one, and shows an awful lot of class.”
Yet another Pipe novice, Red Sherlock, continued his upward trajectory with an easy win at Southwell on Sunday. He is certainly bred for the job, out of late owner David Johnson’s star mare Lady Cricket, and he was making it four from four. He earned a quote of 20/1 for the Neptune with BetVictor.
Meanwhile, The New One continued his transition from brilliant novice to genuine Champion Hurdle contender with aplomb. Despite hitting the last and losing momentum, he used his trademark turn of foot to ease clear of the tough yardstick Zarkandar. The victory sent him to the head of the Champion Hurdle market as the clear 3/1 favourite with BetVictor (Non Runner Free Bet). Expect him to shorten further should be beat My Tent Or Yours in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
There were plenty of other potential stars laying down Cheltenham credentials, none more so than Oscar Whisky and Wonderful Charm who fought out the finish of the two-and-a-half mile novice chase on Friday. Both are now 8/1 for the Jewson with BetVictor, while Paul Nicholls’ pair of Sam Winner and Black Thunder won decent contests over three miles, earning quotes of 14/1 and 20/1 for the RSA Chase.
BetVictor also cut Ballyalton to 12/1 for the Albert Bartlett market but a more likely target is the Neptune where the firm have him as their 10/1 favourite.
For the latest Cheltenham festival ante-post markets with BetVictor please click here.