'At odds of 25-1 for the Gold Cup Whisper makes obvious each-way appeal'
Three Racing Post experts give their reaction to the day's action
If there was a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner in the Ladbrokes Trophy field it was surely Whisper rather than Total Recall.
Nicky Henderson must be cursing the 4lb penalty for Kempton that did not apply when Smad Place won both races, but he will be delighted to see his former high-class staying hurdler fulfilling his destiny over fences at last, almost three years after that inauspicious Exeter debut.
Total Recall is improving all of the time and loved the longer trip, but the same applies equally to Whisper, who, remember, was conceding 14lb. And with Whisper's mark sure to go up to the mid-160s, at least, he is already within touching distance of Sizing John, whose official mark is just 169.
Stablemate Might Bite looks made for the King George, which might yet prove hard to resist with Whisper, but the jury is still out regarding Might Bite at Cheltenham whereas Whisper loves the place. At odds of 25-1 in a place or two he makes obvious each-way appeal in an open race.
Buveur D'Air oozed class in the Fighting Fifth, as he was entitled to. We learned nothing new, but confirmation that he is in rude health after eight months off the track was in itself grounds for a general trimming of his Champion Hurdle odds.
Graham Dench, senior reporter
Bear can growl in the Grand National
The future is clearly very bright for Total Recall following his tenacious win in the Ladbrokes Trophy.
He earned a quote of 25-1 from Betfair for the Cheltenham Gold Cup – it's very much early days in that regard but he has a profile of a chaser firmly on the upgrade.
It was a fantastic run from second-placed Whisper, who gave the winner a stone and only just gave way late on. If Total Recall is being considered a Gold Cup contender, then the same has to be said of Whisper.
Buveur D’Air pleased the eye in defeating inferior rivals in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle. He travelled extremely well and his slick jumping is a joy to watch.
I don't think too much can be gleaned in terms of his back-to-back Champion Hurdle claims, but he did everything expected of him and will again be a major player in the two-mile division.
Stablemate Beware The Bear deserves a mention for his thrilling win in the Rehearsal Chase under a fine ride from Sean Bowen.
Nicky Henderson’s chaser has plenty of scope, handles any ground – although is probably better on a sounder surface – and stays all day. He must be a Grand National contender for the future, be it this season or in the next few years.
Jack Haynes, Live Tipster
A great day for Might Bite fans
Those who are on Might Bite at tasty odds for the King George will be feeling pretty good about things now. Not only was Thistlecrack well beaten on his return on Friday, but the favourite for the Boxing Day spectacular had his form nicely franked in the Ladbrokes Trophy.
His old rival and stablemate Whisper ran a cracker to come so close to winning the prize off a mark of 161, going down narrowly to Total Recall, who himself had previously beaten Alpha Des Obeaux in the Munster National – another horse Might Bite had seen off in last season's RSA Chase.
King George odds of 7-4 are not looking too skinny now for Nicky Henderson's star chaser, while Whisper is also a contender and fair each-way value at 20-1.
Up at Newcastle, Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D'Air landed the Fighting Fifth with an imperious display under Barry Geraghty. He was certainly entitled to win easily – he had over a stone in hand on official figures – but they looked to be trapping up the home straight so you couldn't be anything but impressed that he still won hard held.
That's six straight wins in the last 12 months for Buveur D'Air with nothing coming close to beating him. It's a tad surprising he's not favourite to retain his title in March.
James Hill, tipster
Whisper Cheltenham Gold Cup: 16-1 (from 25s)
Total Recall Cheltenham Gold Cup: 25-1 (first show)
Buvuer D’Air Champion Hurdle: 3-1 (from 7-2)
Elegant Escape RSA Chase: 33-1 (from 50s)
Dame Rose Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle: 14-1 (first show)