Willie Mullins Faugheen was stunning winning the Champion Hurdle on day one of 2015 Cheltenham Festival and is as short as 5/4 to repeat his victory next year in the Champion Hurdle.
Bookmakers would have had there biggest ever payout on day one if Annie Power had not hit the deck jumping the last flight in the Mares Hurdle in saving the bookies an estimated £80 million payout.
Don Poli was a good Max bet for on the second day at 2/1 what a price and Any Currency was unlucky not to win for us in the Cross Country Chase running a blinder at 7/1.
The David Nicholls trained Sovereign Debt is now qualified for All-Weather Championships Finals Day on Good Friday, April 3, following his victory in the £50,000 Listed Ladbrokes Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton last weekend.
The seven-furlong Polytrack contest was a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 Ladbrokes Mile at Lingfield Park on All-Weather Championships Finals Day.
Chookie Royale (Keith Dalgleish/Tom Eaves), who landed the Ladbrokes Lady Wulfruna Stakes in 2014 and was a 5/1 chance this time, made a bold bid from the front to win the race for the second year in succession and was clear at the hallway mark.
Held up towards the rear under Joe Fanning, Sovereign Debt began to make stealthy headway in the final quarter mile and overhauled Chookie Royale in the final half-furlong to register an ultimately decisive length and a quarter victory. The 4/1 favourite Al Thakhira (Marco Botti/Frankie Dettori) kept on to take third, a further three-quarters of a length adrift.
The winner was returned the 9/2 second favourite and won in a time of 1m 26.21s.
Nicholls said: “I said to Joe Fanning that Chookie Royale would try and nick the race – he won it last year so we were quite aware of what was happening in front of us.”
“They said we had a good draw in stall one but I don’t know if it played against us. He is a very, very nice horse and I think that he should have won his last three starts but life’s that way. Paul Mulrennan is over in Dubai so Joe deputised for him.”
“I would imagine that we will go for the Final with him. He is in Lincoln and it’s a possibility but I am not so sure about that one.”
“We have been quiet. Alex (Nicholls’ wife) and myself decided that we needed something to generate a little bit of love in the yard, so we went to the sales and paid a good few quid for this horse. As you can see, that will be rewarded in the coming season.”
Sovereign Debt was previously trained by Michael Bell and finished runner-up in the Group One Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in 2013. He was purchased for 145,000 guineas by David Nicholls at Tattersalls in February, 2014.
Wolverhampton also played host to the £50,000 Ladbrokes Lincoln Trial over an extended mile, which went the way of 4/1 favourite Mindurownbusiness (Roger Varian/Graham Lee).
The four-year-old took up the running inside the final furlong and ran on well to score by three-quarters of a length from Santefisio (Keith Dalgleish/Graham Gibbons).
Successful owner Alan Spence said: “The form was upheld in the first race and Halation won last week so, overall, Mindurownbusiness looked the form horse to back.”
“My son Michael does the weights and he said that this horse was 9lb well in and we should buy him at the sales and aim him at the All-Weather.”
“We were second first time out and then we won at Lingfield three weeks ago and again today. We have actually won more prize money than he cost us!”
There was also decent supporting action at Wolverhampton, headed by the £25,000 Daily Enhanced ‘Magic Multiples’ At Unibet Handicap over just short of six furlongs. This race went the way of Godolphin’s Pretend (Charlie Appleby/Ryan Moore), who stayed on closely to score by a length and a quarter from Boomerang Bob (Charlie Hills/George Blackwell).
Moore said: “He got away well and although he got stuck in behind one I didn’t want to be following, he has done it nicely.”
“I would say he is bordering on Listed class after that.”
Manny Clouds (9/1) is my bet for the Gold Cup on the Friday.
At Lingfield Park on Saturday get on Sabre Rock in the 4.50.
Yours In Sport
Kevan Minter – The Colonel