Tidal trimmed for Gold Cup glory
On the back of his win in a thrilling renewal of the Lexus Chase, Tidal Bay has been cut to a best of 12/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
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The enigmatic veteran looked set for a minor role at best but was produced to get his head in front where it mattered by an inspired Ruby Walsh, denying First Lieutenant in the process.
Coral and Ladbrokes cut Today Bay to a best of 12/1 as a result, but in truth it was a victory which looked to enhance the claims of favourite Bob's Worth, who beat him in the Hennessy.
Nicky Henderson's horse has been cut to 3/1 with most firms, although totesport and Betfred quoted 7/2 immediately after the Leopardstown feature.
"The Hennessy form looks rock solid ahead of the Betfred Gold Cup so we've shortened Bobs Worth to 7/2 from 9/2," said Betfred spokesman Mark Pearson.
Lexus runner-up First Lieutenant is in to 14/1 for the Gold Cup but Flemenstar is out to 12s having looked all over the winner before tiring into a close third.
There had been question-marks around the favourite's stamina prior to the race and he did look a non-stayer, having cantered into the final furlong at which point he hit 1.08 on Betfair.
It remains to be seen whether he'll get the extended distance of Cheltenham's Gold Cup granted better ground, but for now the layers are happy to take him on.
However, if Flemenstar does drop in trip for the Ryanair Chase then he's the one to beat according to the bookmakers, with Sky Bet cutting him to 3/1 from 5/1 and William Hill making him their clear 5/2 jolly.
William Hill spokesman Richard Thomas said, "The Gold Cup is shaping up to be a classic. The Lexus on Friday, backing up from the William Hill King George mean that the 2013 renewal of jump racing's Blue Riband promises to be a cracker.
"With Tidal Bay franking the Hennessy form, we have trimmed Bobs Worth to 3/1, whilst cutting Tidal Bay to 10/1 (from 16/1). Flemenstar was tanking for most of the race, so has been cut to 5/2 (from 9/2) for the Ryanair, and is 9/4 to win any race at the 2013 Festival."
Sir Des Champs wasn't fluent in the Lexus but did stay on very well for fourth and he remains prominent in the Gold Cup betting at 8/1, the shortest price of the first four home on Friday.
Other than Bob's Worth, 7/1 chances Long Run and Silviniaco Conti are the only two ahead of Sir Des Champs in the market and it's 25/1 bar those mentioned.
Earlier on the card, Back In Focus got up late to land the Topaz Novice Chase and he's no bigger than Ladbrokes' 16/1 for the RSA Chase, with narrow runner-up Aupcharlie generally available at the same price.
Monksland was another to come from the clouds as he landed the Christmas Hurdle, and the Noel Meade-trained five-year-old is a standout 10/1 shot with the sponsors for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and as short as 6/1 with Sky Bet.
"We want to keep Monksland on-side after an impressive performance, as Cheltenham's stiff finish will certainly suit," said Sky Bet's Richard Horner.