With three winning favourites on the seven-race card, including the two shortest priced runners on the day, it was very much an afternoon for the punters at Cheltenham.
While the early results offered some hope for bookmakers, the victories of Altior and Tiger Roll put them on the backfoot prior to Band Of Outlaws and the well-supported Envoi Allen obliging in the final two races of the day.
In many ways Altior’s Champion Chase victory provided more questions than answers, most notably just how far will the gelding stay?
At present, however, it looks likely that he will stick to around two miles, with Aintree (2m4f) or Sandown next on the agenda. A crack at Kempton’s King George over Christmas, while a mouthwatering prospect, looks unlikely at this juncture.
Having been made to work hard for his 18th consecutive victory, Altior has been pushed out to a general 3/1 to register a third Champion Chase success next year, with yesterday’s Arkle victor Duc Des Genievres currently second favourite at a best price 12/1.
Of more interest to ante-post punters in the immediate future is likely to be the impressive nature of Tiger Roll’s second victory in the cross country chase, and fourth victory in all at this meeting, which has seen his price for back-to-back Grand Nationals cut from around the 14/1 to mark to a best price 6/1.
City Island’s victory in the opening Ballymore Novice Hurdle has seen him introduced into the betting for next year’s Champion Hurdle at a best price 33/1, so it will be interesting to see if connections stick to hurdling or opt to try their hand over fences during the 2019/20 season.
The protagonists in the RSA Chase, Topofthegame, Santini and Delta Work, finished relatively close together but with regards to future Gold Cup prospects there is a distinct difference of opinion, with the former unsurprisingly the shortest price of the trio at a top price 14/1, while his two rivals can both be backed at 33s, with Present Percy currently favourite at 10/1.