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Monday, 22 February 2021

Countdown to the Cheltenham Festival - Monday 22nd Feb (22 days to go)

That was a weekend!  GOSHEN recaptured the form of his novice hurdle season, and looked a proper Champion Hurdle candidate, with easily the best 2-mile hurdle performance we've seen this side of the Irish Sea in some time.  It is not easy to rate the form, but you know it was 160+ as GOSHEN had Navajo Pass (OR156) and Song For Someone (OR158) under pressure a long way out.  He just powered through the mud looking a very good hurdler. It has certainly made me take another look at the antepost betting.

Goshen is at 9/2 NRNB with PaddyPower/Betfair and BetVictor, and those odds look fair to me. Why? Because he's certainly in the frame to win the Champion Hurdle, but the 7lb mares' allowance puts the advantage with Honeysuckle.  It looks like Honeysuckle has improved since winning the Mares' Hurdle (beating Benie Des Dieux) last March, when you watch how easily she won the Irish Champion Hurdle on 06Feb; so you have to think she's also 160+.  If so, Goshen will need to run to 170 to be in with a winning chance, and you have to wonder whether he can as a 5yo.  Maybe his best chance will be in 2022. Current Champion Epatante needs to recover the form of last season, and even that may not be good enough next month. 

The Goshen performance has pushed Honeysuckle out to 11/4 (from 5/2) with Hills and Bet365.  More importantly, it has also possibly moved Mullins to keep CONCERTISTA in the Mares' Hurdle; and she has hardened in the betting to 6/5 (from 6/4).  While we are on the Mares' Hurdle, Henderson has confirmed that the most likely Cheltenham target for Dame De Compagnie is the Mares' Hurdle, and while I cannot see that one troubling Concertista, she should be in the 1st-3 - so I'm happy I took 14/1 ew as she's now 9/1 (Hills & Bet365) and as low as 6/1 with some bookies. 

The other interesting result was CHAMP running 2nd over 2-miles, and I think that was a great effort.  He should improve a lot for the run, and he is now a serious contender for the Gold Cup for which he is 6/1 NRNB.

There will be another update later in the week.

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