Quel Esprit has been the subject of a gamble that has seen him leap to the head of the betting for the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Coral have reported strong support for the Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old, who was denied a run in the Grade Two Slaney Hurdle on Sunday with the abandonment of the meeting at Naas.
Winner of both his two starts over timber, Quel Esprit has been cut to 8-1 clear favourite from 10-1.
Another Irish-trained challenger to be nibbled at is Captain Cee Bee, whose Festival target is the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy.
Eddie Harty’s charge, owned by legendary gambler J P McManus, is 6-1 second-favourite with the Barking firm behind 5-1 shot Sizing Europe.
Captain Cee Bee looked an unlucky loser when he came down at the final fence when challenging that horse in the Bard Na Mona – With Nature Novice Chase at Leopardstown on St Stephen's Day.
“The freezing temperatures may have played havoc with the racing programme but it hasn’t deterred racing punters from steaming into a couple of Irish hot-pots for Cheltenham,” said Coral spokesman Simon Clare.