Afsoun, who finished third in the 2007 Smurfit Champion Hurdle, got his chasing career off to a winning start at Warwick this afternoon. The Nick Henderson trained gelding was sent off the 4-11 favourite for the race on the back of his hurdles form. However, odds on punters were left to sweat it out right up until the line – where Barry Geraghty’s charge finally got his head past the eventual runner-up Oh Crick.
William Hill’s reaction to Afsoun’s hard fought victory was to leave him unchanged at 20-1 for the Irish Independent Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival.
William Hill spokesman Tony Kenny commented “We thought this race was going to be a stroll in the park for Afsoun, but his jumping was far from fluent and we couldn’t possibly shorten him for the Arkle on the back of that performance” He continued “Already Tatenen looks like he’s the standard bearer in the two mile novice chase division, and Afsoun will have to show dramatic improvement in his jumping if he’s going to get anywhere near Paul Nicholls’ charge”
Irish Independent Arkle: (William Hill Bet) 5-1Tatenen,14-1 Imsingingtheblues, Kicks For Free, 16-1 Kalahari King, 20-1 Afsoun, Forpadydeplasterer, Poquelin, Straw Bear, 25-1 Pigeon Island, Striking Article, 33-1 Astarador, Calgary Bay, Free World, Greenbridge, Planet Of Sound