Briar has it to prove for Cheltenham

  • Last Updated: December 15 2013, 16:08 GMT

Briar Hill did not impress the layers with his victory in the Grade 1 Navan Novice Hurdle on Sunday afternoon.

Briar Hill: Bookmakers not excited by the manner of his Navan victory
Briar Hill: Bookmakers not excited by the manner of his Navan victory

Just two went to post for the contest in the absence of Very Wood and likely market rival, Apache Stronghold, but Willie Mullins hot favourite managed to see off Azorian in workmanlike fashion on the day.

Michael Shinners of Sky Bet reported: " He remains 12/1 joint-favourite with us for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the same price for the three-mile Albert Bartlett, but was eased from 8/1 to 10/1 for the Neptune Novices' Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs.

"We certainly didn't feel we could cut him for any race at the Festival on the strength of that performance, but in a race that turned into a half-mile sprint, we almost certainly didn't see him to best effect either."

Over at Southwell, Red Sherlock continued his progression up the ranks with a convincing win in the Maiden Hurdle on the card. A son of Lady Cricket, he certainly has a pedigree that suggests staying will be the name of the game and William Hill were impressed enough to installed him at 16/1 for both the Supreme Novices Hurdle and the Neptune at the Cheltenham Festival.

It was a good day for Alan Potts as he saw Sizing Tennessee break his maiden over hurdles and Sizing Gold make a successful debut over fences.

BetVictor saw fit to issue a quote of 25/1 (Non-runner Free Bet) for both the Jewson and the RSA Chase.

Away from the racecourse, there was plenty of money around for the Richard Lee-trained Knock A Hand ahead of the Welsh National at Chepstow.

Lee won the race in 2011 with Le Beau Bai and while his eight-year-old didn't exactly shine over hurdles at Haydock Park recently, there has been support across the board and StanJames cut him to just 16/1 for the marathon though Paddy Power have held firm with their price of 33/1.