Things are hotting up - ante-post update
On a weekend of fantastic racing, Nicky Henderson was the main trainer to benefit, as he watched some of his main big race hopes really put themselves in the picture to land a big prize in some of the most valuable races this season.
It was quite the opposite today for Paul Nicholls with the King George favourite, Kauto Star, falling at the last fence in the Betfair Chase.
Henderson's Jack The Giant put himself in the King George picture by bolting up in the Ascot 1:20. He is currently available at 33/1 and, although it is a hot contest, he could not have been more impressive, jumping fluently and not even having to come off the bridle.
Two-time Gold Cup winner Kauto Star's jumping did not look at fluent as usual and it wasn't overly surprising when he unseated Sam Thomas at the last. He would have won but in workmanlike, rather than spectacular, fashion.
As a result, Kauto Star has been eased in the Gold Cup market to 4/1 behind solid 5/4 favorite, Denman. He still retains favouritism in the King George but his odds slightly drifted to 6/4.
Peter Bowen and his Snoopy Loopy were the main beneficiaries of Kauto Star's fall as Seamus Durak powered Snoopy Loopy home to land odds of 33/1.
On the back of this determined performance he is available at 14/1 for the King George and, if Kauto Star's jumping remains shaky, then Snoopy Loopy, who is currently leading the Order of Merit, could quite easily capitalize again.
Chomba Womba enhanced Nicky Henderson's big race credentials by winning the Grade 2 Coral Ascot Hurdle. The win looks even more impressive when you consider he had Champion Hurdle second favourite, Crack Away Jack, behind him, along with a host of other useful performers.
As a result, Chomba Womba's odds for the Champion Hurdle have been cut to 16/1, while Crack Away Jack's odds were slightly eased and he is now available at 6/1.
Jonjo O'Neills Binocular justified long odds on to run away with the Betfair Hurdle on his seasonal reappearance. He is now as short as 7/2 favourite for the Champion Hurdle, which is already starting to look extremely competitive.
Franchoek, who was previously tipped as an ante-post bet for the World Hurdle, made a satisfactory reappearance, running fifth behind Chomba Womba over an inadequate distance. He got round unscathed and will benefit from a step up to three miles. His price for the World Hurdle remains unchanged at 20/1.
The Charlie Egerton trained Darkness, one of the Hennessy selections who ran for the first time since 2006, showed he retained his ability by running an excellent third having jumped well.
Unfortunately, Darkness has been pulled out of the Hennessy at the five-day declaration stage. However, the other ante post tip Dear Villez stands his ground and is available at 14/1.
The Grand National may be 6 months away but Black Apalachi won the Beecher Chase very impressively having jumped superbly. He fell early on in the National last year but made no such mistake over this shorter distance tackling the National fences again. An early price of 25/1 is now available which puts him amongst the market leaders, still headed by last year's winner Comply Or Die at 16/1, despite pulling up on his seasonal reappearance.
One to watch - Chomba Womba definitely looks a mare to keep onside and some big prizes will surely be coming her way.
Champion Hurdle - Sizing Europe 8/1
World Hurdle - Franchoek 20/1