Whisky fails to impress layers
Oscar Whisky was pushed out for the JLT Novices' Chase despite winning at Sandown on Saturday.
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Nicky Henderson's horse was far from fluent at his obstacles and while connections were happy enough with his performance, bookmakers were underwhelmed.
William Hill made him 10/1 from 8/1 and Jon Ivan-Duke said: "Oscar Whisky made heavy work of it and he would need to be a lot better than that to win at Cheltenham. It would be surprising if we saw a surge of bets for him after that performance."
Stan James eased him to 8/1, a price also offered by Paddy Power, but Sky Bet left their previous 7/1 quote unchanged.
Sky Bet spokesman Michael Shinners said: "He didn't win as comfortably as his connections would have wanted to but it's job done and it's debatable what this form is worth going forwards.
"Hopefully, conditions will be nowhere near as testing at Cheltenham in March and we're happy to leave him unchanged at 7/1 as he's got plenty of experience at that track and has impressed there the last twice."
At Wetherby, Ely Brown took advantage of favourite Green Flag's departure to win the Towton Novices' Chase and he's as short as 12/1 for the National Hunt Chase with Boylesports, although 25/1 is on offer with 888sport.
Earlier on that card, John Quinn's Aurore d'Estruval was sufficiently impressive to prompt Coral to cut her to 25/1 for the JCB Triumph Hurdle. Betfred, Stan James and BetVictor cut the filly to 33/1 leaving just bet365 and Boylesports laying 50s.
Saphir Du Rheu defied a big weight to win the Welsh Champion Hurdle, but with connections suggesting he may well bypass the Cheltenham Festival there's still plenty of 14/1 around.
Stan James suffered a difficult afternoon as Venetia Williams secured a treble at Sandown and saddled the winner of the West Wales National at Ffos Las.
Rory Jiwani of StanJames.com said: "Venetia's horses often produce in bottomless ground but today was extraordinary.
"After Saroque took the opener at Sandown, Emperor's Choice took the West Wales National to make it another winning Venetia Williams favourite. We cut Emperor's Choice from 40/1 to 25/1 for the Haydock Grand National Trial.
"Aachen then landed a bit of a touch for owner Tony Bloom as he was backed in to 6/4 favourite before winning at Sandown. We managed to keep on the right side of that one but we weren't so lucky with Relax who took the next at 9/1 to complete a 99/1 Sandown treble and a 549/1 across-the-card four-timer for the Hereford-based trainer.
"We had a fair bit running on to her Last Shot in the last but thankfully Sew On Target surged clear for the Tizzards."
William Hill meanwhile were pleased to see Relax go in, having reportedly laid Pricewise selection Ardkilly Witness heavily throughout the day.
On Sunday, the Willie Mullins-trained Wicklow Brave advertised his Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle credentials with an impressive success at Punchestown.
Connections confirmed the Cheltenham Festival curtain-raiser as the target and Wicklow Brave was cut to 16/1 as a result.
Richard Horner, spokesman for Sky Bet, said: "Wicklow Brave - despite two or three sloppy jumps including at the last - ran out a very impressive winner and looks a lively contender for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle."
Later, Arvika Ligeonniere won the Tied Cottage Chase but sponsors BetVictor were happy to leave him unchanged at 16/1 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
At Musselburgh, John Ferguson's Broughton earned 16/1 quotes for the JCB Triumph Hurdle having scored impressively on his second start over obstacles.
"Broughton was a decent horse on the Flat for Mark Johnston and could be even better under National Hunt rules for John Ferguson," said William Hill spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke.