Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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Divers Promoted to Centenary Favouritism

Following his appearance on Channel 4's 'The Morning Line' on Saturday and his suggestion that Divers is his best chance of landing a winner at the forthcoming Cheltenham Festival, trainer Ferdy Murphy's charge has been promoted by most firms to 10/1 ante-post favouritism for the Centenary Novices Chase, although some now go as short as 8/1, writes Elliot Slater.

© Grossick Racing Photography


Murphy has a good record at the Cheltenham Festival over the years and seems to nearly always have his horses at their peak in the early spring, so punters and bookmakers alike have taken notice of what the Middleham handler had to say and apparently acted accordingly. At this stage of proceedings though, (with the first day of the fixture little more than a week away), the slightest nod or a wink in any direction from trainers, owners or jockeys, often prompts a restructuring of the Cheltenham betting markets with bookies on edge and not wanting to be caught out by a 'steamer'.

Divers has a fairly progressive profile and has a good weight of 11st 4lbs, meaning he should make the cut in a race that is heavily over-subscribed. The two-mile-four-furlong Listed novices' handicap chase is one of the most fiendishly difficult events to figure out of the whole meeting, but Murphy's hint that he thought his seven-year-old is on a fair mark has made people sit up and take notice.

The Highest Honour gelding won nicely at Carlisle in October (beating Tara Royal by two-lengths), then next time out was beaten a long way behind RSA Chase favourite Time For Rupert at Cheltenham (although he was hampered). Winner of a three-runner affair back at Carlisle last time out, Divers is improving and his recent victory came in a race won by his smart stable companion Kalahari King a couple of years ago. There is definitely the hint of 'a plot' about Divers' campaign so far this term and he must go to Cheltenham with a very decent chance.

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