The Punter: Sizing up the possibility of a clean sweep for the ‘Big Four’
Following the scintillating performance of Sizing Europe in slamming his Cheltenham Champion Chase rival Big Zeb by 15 lengths in the Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown, the prospects of a ‘Big Four' repeat at the Festival in six weeks time, is growing all the time.
Hurricane Fly and Big Buck's are firmly ensconced as market leaders to retain the Champion Hurdle and Stayers' Hurdle and now Sizing Europe is a clear 6-4 chance with Big Zeb drifting out to 5-1 for the two-mile Grade 1 chase.
Long Run must also win the Gold Cup to make it a four-timer but who in all honesty could make an unarguable case for the repeat quad not being landed for the first time?
Kauto Star supporters may pooh-pooh the idea as he has beaten the Gold Cup holder in their last two meetings but the Cheltenham race is over an extra two furlongs and that was the decisive factor last year as the Nicky Henderson horse stayed up the hill better than Kauto.
We'll get a better idea of Long Run's form when he goes in the Betfair Denman Chase on Saturday at Newbury.
If he wins, then all four of the festival ‘jollies' will have taken victories in the last three weeks.
The quad has now been slashed from 30-1 into 20s and as low as 16-1 with Ladbrokes.
Take the 20-1 before Saturday as it will only contract further once Long Run does the business.
At the same Newbury meeting, double up on Zarkandar for Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh.
Zarkandar, who emerged victorious at Cheltenham and Aintree last year, is third favourite for the Champion Hurdle and he should show why here in the Betfair Hurdle for which he is the 3-1 favourite.