Racing News – 5th March 2018 – Cheltenham Beckons

Footpad Drifts, Snow Drifts and Haggas Makes Headway

Arkle Favourite Takes A Walk In The Market

There may now be just over a week to go until the Cheltenham Festival, but there will no doubt be plenty of market moves over the remaining days as the hype and rumour mills spin into overdrive.

The latest to be afflicted by this phenomenon is the Willie Mullins-trained Arkle favourite, Footpad. Having been brutally impressive in all three starts over fences to date and not having been seen at the track since slamming Petit Mouchoir in the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown at the beginning of February, what reason could there be for a marked drift in the market over the weekend?

Well none apparently, with connections reporting that all is well with the horse and preparations are going smoothly. He is nevertheless out to 6/4 from Evens with some of the main bookies.

A load of hot air? Or no smoke without fire? On recent evidence, it could well be either. Stablemate Douvan displayed a similar drift prior to this year’s Tingle Creek and was ultimately withdrawn. The ill-fated Vautour meanwhile drifted alarmingly ahead of the 2016 Ryanair Chase, and promptly bolted up by six lengths….

Beast Buries Cheltenham

We are sure we haven’t been alone among racing fans this week with our thoughts concerning “the beast from the east” and storm Emma. Our overwhelming feeling has been one of relief. Specifically, relief that all this snow didn’t rear its ugly head at any time been the 13th and 16th March!

Not that Cheltenham has escaped entirely unscathed, with this past week’s inclement weather seeming likely to have at least some effect on the ground conditions at the Festival. We should know more just as soon as ground staff have removed the reported 200 tonnes of snow under which Prestbury Park is now buried!

Expected to be good to soft, soft in places ahead of the opening race, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, it would be no surprise should the going be veering towards good come the Thursday and Friday of the meeting. There has nevertheless been a plunge or two on the mud larks already, and it will certainly pay to keep an eye on the forecast when planning those early bets.

Headway Sprints To Spring Success

We may have been left with “only” the all-weather on Saturday afternoon as a consequence of the rash of abandonments up and down the country, but we still had a quality Listed contest on offer in the form of Lingfield’s Spring Cup over seven furlongs, and it resulted in a hugely impressive performance from the winner.

Having twice place in Group 2 company last term, William Haggas’s, Headway fully deserved his status as 11/10 market leader on form. With only around a furlong to go though, favourite backers must have been fearing the worst. Five lengths adrift of the front running Rufus King, he surely had too much to do. Little did we know that once asked to quicken, this son of Havana Gold would produce a turn of foot of the truly jet-propelled variety, mowing down the leader with room to spare for a one lengths success.

Still a 33/1 shot with Betfair for the 2000 Guineas, that entry perhaps doesn’t looks quite so fanciful now, particularly should the ground come up quick at Newmarket.