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Festival favourites and a Grand National hope: how Saturday impacted the markets

Monkfish made a big impression on his first start over fences
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A rundown of how Saturday's big-race performances at Newbury, Newcastle and Fairyhouse affected the ante-post markets for the 2021 Cheltenham Festival and Grand National

Monkfish
The race formerly known as RSA Novices’ Chase
4-1 (from 8)

Last season's Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle winner made a splash when winning a beginners' chase at Fairyhouse, cruising into contention under Paul Townend and cantering clear for an easy four-length success.

Monkfish had been disputing favouritism for the race formerly known as the RSA (new sponsor yet to be announced) with Envoi Allen before he had even jumped a fence, yet his chasing debut was so easy on the eye he was immediately cut across the board into clear 4-1 favouritism.

Iit is easy to see why Monkfish has shot to the head of the market, although Envoi Allen’s appearance in the Drinmore on Sunday could cause another significant shift.

What connections said:
Paul Townend, jockey: "Monkfish just needed one squeeze coming down to the last and he picked up well. You couldn't have asked for any more and his jumping was very good."

How the market looks:
Bet365: 4-1 Monkfish, 8 Envoi Allen, The Big Breakaway, 10 Next Destination 14 Latest Exhibition, 16 Galvin, Pencilfuilloflead, 20 bar


Next Destination
The race formerly known as RSA Novices’ Chase
10-1 (from 20)

Next Destination: was cut for the race formerly known as the RSA Chase after winning at Newbury on Saturday

Monkfish was not the only market mover for the three mile contest after Next Destination produced a smart debut over fences when landing the Grade 2 Ladbrokes John Francome Novices' Chase at Newbury.

A dual Grade 1-winning hurdler for Willie Mullins, Next Destination has endured a nightmare two and a half years after tendon and pelvic injuries enforced a 920-day layoff.

One of a glut of horses that moved from Mullins to Paul Nicholls in the summer, Next Destination gave his new trainer hope he retains the ability which saw him fend off Delta Work in the 2018 Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle when an encouraging second on his long-awaited return at Wetherby last month.

To produce such a stylish performance on his chasing bow and after such a long time off suggests there may be even brighter days ahead.

What connections said:
Paul Nicholls, trainer: "Next Destination ran a lot better than we thought at Wetherby and he'd schooled over fences and jumped great. He's got talent and is a very good horse if we can keep him sound."

How the market looks:
Bet365: 4-1 Monkfish, 8 Envoi Allen, The Big Breakaway, 10 Next Destination 14 Latest Exhibition, 16 Galvin, Pencilfuilloflead, 20 bar


Concertista
Mares' Hurdle
6-1 (from 10)

Paul Townend must take the plaudits for an excellent ride after he effortlessly cruised Concertista into contention in the Grade 2 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Hurdle before nudging her past Minella Melody in the final 100 yards. 

The six-year-old burst onto the scene with a 12-length victory in the mares' novice hurdle at the Festival in March and, with a whole lot more seemingly in the locker, she underlined her credentials for the Mares' Hurdle in March.

Howver, Honeysuckle looms over that division, and given Willie Mullins' suggestion that Concertista could step out of mares' company, more should become clear following the return of the Henry de Bromhead-trained star at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

What connections said:
Willie Mullins, trainer: "Concertista was good and the trip was no problem. She might go for a mares race or maybe take on the boys next time. We shall see."

How the market looks:
Paddy Power: 3-1 Honeysuckle, 9-2 Benie Des Dieux, 6 Concertista, 12 Dame De Compagnie, 14 Roksana, 20 bar


Epatante
Champion Hurdle
6-4 (from 11-4)

Not even the chaotic start to the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, which saw Not So Sleepy unseat Paddy Brennan at the first and then carry out Silver Streak at the next, could overshadow the flawless return of last season's Champion Hurdle heroine Epatante.

Epatante: a convincing winner of the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle

Aidan Coleman enjoyed the ride of a lifetime as the JP McManus-owned six-year-old travelled smoothly into proceedings and she jumped superbly before easing her way past Sceau Royal on the run-in.

Epatante was already a short price to give Nicky Henderson a ninth Champion Hurdle triumph and on that evidence it will take something extremely special to stop her.

What connections said:
Nicky Henderson, trainer: "It's a relief as much as anything. It shows that everything Epatante did last year, there was no fluke about it. I thought she was great, she's a proper hurdler. The great thing about her is you can press a button and off she goes."

How the market looks:
Ladbrokes: 6-4 Epatante, 11-2 Abacadabras, 6 Saint Roi, 8 Goshen, 9 Honeysuckle, 14 Buveur D’Air, 16 Concertista, 20 bar


Cloth Cap
Grand National
25-1 (from 66)

Cloth Cap could not have been more impressive after a majestic all-the-way success in the Ladbrokes Trophy, and trainer Jonjo O'Neill immediately began contemplating a shot at the Grand National.

Cloth Cap: winner of the 2020 Ladbrokes Trophy

Conditions were ideal for the eight-year-old, who benefited from carrying bottomweight and was inch-perfect with his jumping on his favoured good ground as he ran the field ragged.

With only two of the last ten editions of the Grand National having been run on ground any worse than good to soft, he should be a leading player in a market that has been blown wide open after Tiger Roll's disappointing comeback.

What connections said:
Jonjo O'Neill, trainer: "We've been trying to get the horse rated high enough to run in the National and he's probably done that now."

How the market looks:
Betfair: 20-1 Burrows Saint, Presenting Percy, 25 Any Second Now, Santini, Cloth Cap, 33 bar

Read more:

Cloth Cap proves a perfect Trophy fit after storming home under happy Scudamore

Class act Epatante tightens grip on Champion Hurdle market with dazzling victory

Lee Westwood in tears as 66-1 shot Yorkhill rolls back the years in Rehearsal

Lee Mottershead: Scudamore and Coleman experience the sort of euphoria only jump jockeys can know


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It is easy to see why Monkfish has shot to the head of the market
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