Weekend Review: Edwardstone stakes Champion Chase claim while Honeysuckle suffers Hatton's Grace shock defeat
David Stevens, Head of Coral PRAnyone following the build up to Saturday’s Tingle Creek Chase could have been forgiven for thinking this famous Sandown Grade One was simply a match between Shishkin and Greaneteen, but not for the first time did a big race fail to stick to the script that had been written in advance for it. While Shishkin never appeared to be in real contention, Greaneteen at least ran a perfectly solid race, it was just he had no answer to Edwardstone when Tom Cannon asked his mount to take the lead two fences from home. Last season’s Arkle winner may not have been given the credit he deserved when winning that Festival race, but he has surely silenced his doubters now, and is the 7/2 second favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, behind only 6/4 market leader Energumene.
Shishkin may have fluffed his Sandown lines, but one Nicky Henderson-trained chaser who did sparkle at the Esher track was Jonbon. JP McManus' novice made it two from two over fences when beating a reliable yardstick in Boothill, and he's now 7/4 favourite for this season's Arkle.
Dan and Harry Skelton have been the pair to follow in the big chases for the last two Saturdays, with Protektorat winning at Haydock a fortnight ago, followed by Le Milos’ victory in the Coral Gold Cup last weekend, and the pair made it three in a row when sending out Ashtown Lad to win over the National fences in Aintree's Becher Chase. That one is now a 20/1 chance for the big one next April, while punters will surely take a keen interest in Midnight River for the in-form duo, with the 7-year-old the current favourite for next Saturday’s December Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
While Ashtown Lad could be a future Grand National winner, Noble Yeats already has his name on that roll of honour, but strange as it may seem, his time running in handicaps – even the most famous one of all – could be in the past following his facile victory in the Many Clouds Chase at the Merseyside track. Appearing to join in the race with one fence to run, such was the ease with which Sean Bowen’s mount got the race sewn up, it would be no surprise if this horse had further improvement to come, and he's just 8/1 for the King George later this month, and the same price for this season’s Gold Cup.
The main focus of Sunday's action came at Fairyhouse, with the Irish track staging three Grade Ones, including the Hatton's Grace Hurdle. The feature race was supposed to be another fairly straightforward assignment for the wonderful Honeysuckle, but the red-hot favourite suffered a first career defeat, and in fact she could finish only third. She’s been eased to 8/1, from 4/1, for a third Champion Hurdle success, a race that the market now says is at the mercy of Constitution Hill, with the Fighting Fifth winner now 2/7 for next March’s showpiece.