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Charli Parcs was the big talking horse of the weekend as he went into battle in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton as second favourite for the Triumph Hurdle, with his trainer Nicky Henderson happy to tell everyone that he could be the real deal. However, Charli Parcs never looked at home at any point during the race, despite being sent off the 8/15 favourite, and duly deposited the unfortunate Barry Geraghty on the deck, with the JP McManus retained jockey now almost certain to miss the Cheltenham Festival.
The Adonis was won by the Alan King trained Master Blueyes, who travelled ominously well throughout the race before scooting clear in impressive fashion. Master Blueyes was cut into 8/1 (NRNB) with Bet365 after the race, and he’s now sharing third-favouritism with Charli Parcs and the Willie Mullins trained Baupaume.
That wasn’t the only juvenile race of the weekend though, as Fairyhouse staged the Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle. It was won by Dinaria Des Obeaux in controversial style after the Gordon Elliott trained mare finished second to the Ellmarie Holden trained Ex Patriot, only to collect the race in the steward’s room. Dinaria Des Obeaux is now 16/1 (NRNB) and Ex Patriot 20/1 (NRNB) with Bet365.
Charli Parcs shouldn’t be written off completely though, as he wasted far too much energy in the pre-race preliminaries by pulling too hard on the way to the start, though fast ground looks a prerequisite to his chances. If you want to back him to make amends in the Triumph Hurdle, make sure you back him non-runner-no-bet as there’s a chance he’ll be re-routed to the Supreme Novices Hurdle on the opening day.
However, Nicky Henderson also unearthed another possible candidate for the Supreme Novice Hurdle in the shape of River Wylde, who’s now 10/1 (NRNB) after winning the Dovecote Novices Hurdle at Kempton in impressive fashion.
Frodon also ran out an impressive winner on the Kempton card at 8/11, but Paul Nicholls’ 5-year-old failed to shake-up the betting for the JLT novices chase, and remains 16/1 (NRNB) for what could be the strongest ever renewal of that race with the likes of Yorkhill, Top Notch and Politilogue amongst his potential opponents.
Fairyhouse also hosted two more interesting races on Saturday in the Bobbyjo Chase and the Easter Festival Hunter Chase.
The Bobbyjo Chase is seen as a trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but the winner Pleasant Company isn’t even entered. One horse from the race who could yet be seen in a better light is Lord Windermere, as the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner would have hated the heavy ground. Granted good ground come March, in a Gold Cup that is cutting-up all the time, he could yet be one of the more interesting outsiders at 66/1 (NRNB).
The other notable runner from Fairyhouse was Aupcharlie, who stated his case for the Cheltenham Foxhunters by winning the Easter Festival Hunter Chase by 14-lengths. However, the 2-mile 5-furlong trip may have been ideal for Jim Dreaper’s 11-year-old, and he may lack for stamina at Cheltenham. If you think he’ll stay, he’s now down to 10/1 (NRNB) with Bet365.
However, the most eye-catching performance of the whole weekend was that of Camping Ground in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell on Sunday, where he beat the likes of La Rocher and L’ami Serge pointless despite conceding them 8lb. Having always been a talking-horse, Camping Ground looks to have improved massively for a switch of stables to Gary Moore, and his odds for the Stayers Hurdle have been slashed from 40/1 to 16/1 (NRNB).