The National Hunt season has really started to heat up over the last couple of weeks – throwing up plenty of early Festival pointers.
Cheltenham’s three-day November meeting and Betfair Chase Day at Haydock have been the highlights in Britain – while Punchestown and Navan have hosted early graded racing across the Irish Sea.
There is a long way to go until March – and the Cheltenham Festival – but there have already been some impressive performances leading to opportunities to pick up nice ante-post prices.
My NAP of The Festival in 2020 was Imperial Aura – who duly delivered on last season’s promise.
Arguably the strongest performance so far has come from none other than the yard of Kim Bailey – based in Cheltenham.
Bailey is currently on 31 winners and having the season of his life – picking up a Grade 2 contest at Cheltenham’s last meeting, with Does He Know.
Imperial Aura set off the 13/8F in Saturday’s Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase – at Ascot -and put up an eye-catching performance to land a second Grade 2 in a week, for the yard.
Following that victory, he was slashed into 7/1 – the best price you’ll find for The 2021 Ryanair Chase.
He may have another run before then, although it is yet to be confirmed by the trainer, who said:
“Imperial Aura has come out of his race incredibly well – I’m absolutely delighted with his run and I’m delighted with the way he’s taken it.
“The target for the season is going to be The Ryanair – with a possibility of going to Ascot three or four weeks before as his next race.
“Nothing is confirmed yet – we’ll see how he feels next week.”
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With the strike-rate the yard is currently operating at – and the race being confirmed as the target – 7/1 still looks a very enticing early price for ante-post punters.