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Weekend Review - Shadow catches the eye in Spring defeat

Shadow Catcher shines in narrow loss to Hisaabaat at Leopardstown

Hisaabaat may have notched up victory in the Grade One Spring Juvenile Hurdle, but Dermot Weld's raider may not be the one to take out of the contest as second-placed Shadow Catcher was the eyecatcher and has to be respected at around 20/1 for next month's Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Gordon Elliott's four-year-old was always on the front end in the contest and was still travelling like a dream on the turn for home, but just couldn't quicken up enough after two sticky jumps at the final two flights.

The son of Haafhd was only having his second ever run over timber, having beaten the classy Darroun on his debut in a maiden contest and he is sure to improve for Sunday's clash and could head to the Cheltenham Festival to a division that looks wide open this year.

His two miniscule errors at the last two hurdles certainly stopped his momentum and if Elliott can get him schooling at home then he maybe able to iron those problems over the next month.

However, the 20/1 with some bookmakers certainly looks a generous price on yesterday's showing and come March 16 if he lines up for the Triumph, then he is a name to keep on the right side of.

Quel Esprit could be lively Gold Cup contender

Quel Esprit produced another classy performance on Sunday in the Irish Hennessy Gold Cup and Willie Mullins' star could now be handed a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup and is certainly not a forlorn hope.

The jumping issues he had last season have seemed to be quashed this campaign and that will all bode well for the Gold Cup on March 16.  He was travelling ominously well in last year's RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival before coming down three out and has shown this season to be improving with every run.

Obviously in Long Run and Kauto Star he will have two superb challengers, but at the double-figured prices available about the Co. Carlow inmate, he could still offer a bit of value for the Blue Riband event and could spearhead the Irish challenge.

Newbury ready for Fantastic Free Friday

Massive plaudits should go out to Newbury racecourse who have managed to rearrange their coverted 'Super Saturday' meeting on Friday and it will give trainers, owners and punters alike a real treat as some leading Cheltenham Festival candidates are set to head to Berkshire.

Free entry over the half-term weekend is sure to drum up a bumper crowd and with Gold Cup hero Long Run, Arkle favourite Sprinter Sacre and Champion Hurdle hopeful Zarkandar all set to maintain their place in the respected races, punters will be handed an equine treat.

One To Watch

Willie Mullins unearthed yet another potential Cheltenham Champion Bumper horse as Pique Sous was an eyecatching winner of the national hunt flat race on Sunday at Leopardstown.

Instantly installed as one of the market leaders for the bumper contest, the Co. Carlow master is sure to have another strong team heading to Presbury Park for the final race on March 14 and Pique Sous is one for the bumper notebook.


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