Cheltenham Day 1
Sorry the tips are few hours late but we had a lot to get through.
We use a 5 star Rating System on our tips for Cheltenham. 1 star or point will be different for everyone. For example if your usual bet is £5.00 per horse then you'll be putting £25.00 on our 5 star selections. If your usual bet is £10.00 you'll be staking £50.00 on our 5 star selections and so on. Right so lets get into Day 1. We're going to give our race by race guide first and then we will sum up and give your our best bets etc at the end of the email.
Race 1: Supreme Novices Hurdle - 1:30 PM
We've already previewed this race so we won't go into too much detail. I think both Al Dancer and Fakir D’oudairies are decent sorts but I don’t think either will win this race. Al Dancer might lack the class of some of these and Fakir D’oudairies is a year too young. There are several trends against those two also. Elixir De Nutz was our main fancy for this race but will miss the race due to being lame. Our next best choice is the Willie Mullins trained Klassical Dream. This ex French horse won on debut for Willie at Leopardstown in a maiden hurdle. The form of that race was decent enough with the 3rd Vision D’Honneur winning since and placing in a Grade 1. Klassical Dream didn't jump too well then but was resolute in the finish. Willie Mullins then took a big step up in class with this horse and ran it in the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown at the Dublin Racing Festival. Klassical Dream showed great improvement on it’s previous run winning the race by head from previous Grade 1 winner and stablemate Aramon. Klassical Dream took it up 3 out and was passed on the run in by the strong travelling Aramon but he battled back bravely under Ruby Walsh to get back up. The horse showed real guts that day to win. Ruby previously rode Aramon to win a Grade 1 but choose to ride the relatively unknown Klassical Dream that day. It must have been shown plenty at home for him. Ruby should ride it again in this race. Both he and Aramon come here with big chances of winning. I do think Klassical Dream is the better horse and has much more potential than Aramon and most of these horses. Willie Mullins won this race 3 years in a row previously with Champange Fever, Vautour and Douvan. All of which were ridden by Ruby Walsh.The horse needs to jump better to win this race but I’m sure he’ll be well schooled for this race. Ruby Walsh yesterday spoke about the horse on Paddy live and also on Racing TV. He said that the horse is in fine form and that he's hopeful that the forecast rain arrives for the horse. He said if the ground is soft this gelding will take a lot of beating.
Horses that race prominently have a tremendous record in this race. Outsiders Brandon Castle and Felix Desjy will most likely make the running early. I seriously doubt they'll be able to keep up the pace though. Klassical Dream and Fakir D'oudairies will most likely pick up the lead at the top of the hill, increasing the pace. With Aramon, Angels Breath, Al's Dancer and Grand Sancy all being held up for a late finish. Fakir D'oudairies is only a 4 year old and they have a poor record in this race. I think he'll come undone on the final turn for home. I believe Ruby will be kicking on early off the final bend on Klassical Dream just like he did on Champagne Fever and Vautour when winning this race. It will take a very good one to pass this gelding. He showed at Leopardstown that he loves a fight and pulls out more when a horse comes up sides him. I think Angels Breath is the main danger to Klassical Dream. The horse looks like a stayer and has lots of potential. He is highly regarded by his trainer Nicky Henderson. Who has a great record in this race just like Willie Mullins. Angels Breath lost out in a battle last time out though at odds on. I think he'll lose out again to the gallant Klassical Dream. I think Aramon won't be far away again and is great value each way at 16/1. Grand Sancy is another who could place for Paul Nicholls. We're on Klassical Dream at 10/1 and we're confident he'll be in the frame at least.
Selection: Klassical Dream 9/2 ??? Win (Unibet) - Drifted to 7s and WON!
Outsider: Aramon 12/1 ?/? 7 Places Each Way (BetVictor)
Race 2: Arkle Novice Chase - 2:10 PM
There's usually one standout horse in this race but that's not the case this time round. It's such a wide open race. The one's I give little or no chance too in this are Slate House who fell in the Supreme last year, Clondaw Castle and Articulum. Front runners have a terrible record in this race. Mainly because most of them go off at a crazy pace and are found out by the uphill finish. Knocknanuss and Ornua are both runaway front runners and they'll end up cutting each others throat from the from and will set the race up for the others. Us and Them has played 2nd fiddle in most of this races this season. He finished a 10L 2nd to Hardline todays rival and also to Le Richeburg who was favourite for this race but misses out due to injury. He's not good enough to win this race in my opinion, He was beaten an awful long way in last years Supreme Novices Hurdle. Both of todays rivals Paloma Blue and Kalashnikov who placed in that race should confirm placings with that horse. Paloma Blue ran a decent race in the Supreme Novices at last years festival. Jockey Davy Russell spoke about this horse in a recent Cheltenham Preview and said that he was backward last year and still hasn't fully come into his own this season. He thinks the horse will be decent with another season under its belt. This horse has had only 2 runs over fences too which is not ideal coming into this race. Davy Russell has also jumped ship and rides Hardline in the race. Paloma Blue has 4L to find with Duc De Genievres based on its run in the Deloitte Novices Hurdle last season and 4L to find with Kalashnikov based on last years Supreme which suggests he'll be found wanting in this race.
Kalashnikov was a good novice hurdler last season He was 2nd in the Supreme Novice hurdle at this festival last year. He took the race up 2 out and got a good run on the field. He idled up the straight though and Summerville Boy reeled him in late on. Kalashnikov was a close up 2nd to Dynamite Dollars in the Wayward Lad. He was then beaten by a long ways at long odds on by todays rival Glen Forsa in the Kingmaker at Sandown. I just get the feeling the horse wasn't fully fit that day and that the horse doesn't like going right handed. It's only run at this track was a career best. I think the return to this track will bring out the best in him. He has work to do with Glen Forsa though. I think he could well place but is not my idea of the winner. Glen Forsa wasn't much of a hurdler, was only rated 120 in fact. This horse is clearly a chaser though. He's three from three over fences and looks progressive. He didn't beat much on his chase debut over 2 miles 7 but he won nicely. He then won a novices handicap chase off a mark of 124 over 2 miles 4 furlongs. He took a further drop in trip when winning the 2 mile Grade 2 Kingmaker at Sandown beating Kalasnikov by 19L. It was only a three horse race that day and he beat an out of sorts Kalashnikov and a horse rated only 126. He was able to dictate that race that day from the front and won easily. The form of the horses he's beaten is questionable and I think he may be run off its feet in this race. This horse clearly has stamina but I question if he can hang in there with most of these early on. No doubt he'll be doing his best work late on but the leaders may have flown by then. He's a likable horse and is progressive but I just think it's running over the wrong trip.
Lalor won 3 bumpers and showed a good level of form as a novice hurdler. He finished in front of Supreme winner Summerville Boy at this course as a novice. Ran poor in last years Betfair Hurdle but he jumped terrible that day and lost all chance. He left that form behind though when winning the Grade 1 Top Novices Hurdle at the Aintree Festival. He was very impressive when winning on chase debut over this course in November. He beat Dynamite Dollars that day by 7L. That horse since beat Kalashnikov in a Grade 2. Lalors most recent run came at Sandown where he lost out to Dynamite Dollars by 12L. Again that day Lalors jumping was poor and was the reason he ran so bad. I don't think that was his true showing. He's only had two runs over fences which is a negative in this race. Theres no question this horse has an engine but I don't think he jumps well enough. The pace in this race will be very fast and usually jumping becomes a key factor in winning this. I like this horse but right now he just don't jump good enough for me to bet on him.
I think this race could well be a match race between the Willie Mullins trained Duc De Genievres and the Gordon Elliott trained Hardline. Willie Mullins has won this race 3 of the last 4 years. Duc De Genievres was a decent novice hurdle. He was 2nd to Samcro in a Grade 1 and finished 5th in the Ballymore behind Samcro in the Ballymore at the festival last season. Willie Mullins said that this horse failed to see out the trip in the Ballymore and is the main reason why the horse has been dropped in trip this season. Duc De Genievres has had 3 runs over fences and has learned from each start. He wasn't tried overly in his first two novice chases but he was electric last time out under todays jockey Paul Townend at Gowran. The horse jumped really well and cruised to a 15L win from Tower Bridge who is fancied for the Close Brothers Chase later on in the card.
Hardline has an awful lot of experience which is needed for this race historically. He wasn't the best hurdler but still won 4 races over hurdles. He's become a much better horse over fences this season. He beat Us and Them by 10lL in a Grade 3 and beat Ridersonthestorm by 22L in a Grade 1 at Limerick. He then ran a solid race when 3rd in the Grade 1 Flogas Chase at Leopardstown. The runner up Kaiser Chief won yesterday which franked the form. I think the trip of 2 mile 5f was too far for Hardline that day but I think the run will have put him spot on for this. The horse is battle hardened and has the services of Davy Russell in the plate which is a major plus. The horse is usually held up in its races and that is also a plus for this race. It's going to be a close call between he and Duc Des Genievres in this race but I think Hardline will edge it.
Race 3: Ultima Handicap Chase - 2:50 PM
This handicap is wide open and is not one to be having a large bet in. The trends guide suggest that novices or second season novices do particularly well. Course form is also very helpful. This is a race that the Irish don't do very well in. Noble Endeavour placed in this race 2 years back but has only had 1 run since. Of the fancied ones, he's one I just can't have. Singlefarmpayment was chinned on the line in this race 2 years ago off a mark of 142 and was 5th in the race last year off 145. The horse was 2nd over course and distance recently off a mark of 146. This horse usually places but he's not one for win purposes. This horse is a bit of a dog, he stops as soon as he gets to the front. If it comes down to this one and something else in a tight finish I wouldn't like to be on this horse.
Coo Star Sivola won this race last year off a mark of 143 under Lizzie Kelly. This horse won with plenty in hand that day and should confirm the placings with Singlefarmpayment, Vintage Clouds and Beware the Bear who filled out the placings. Coo Star Sivola went up to a mark of 150 after that win but hasn't shown any form in 4 runs since. The horse has been dropped again in the ratings and carries only 2lb higher than last years race. We got some inside info about this horse a week ago. We were told the horse wasn't fully fit in it's races this season and that this race was the main target. Lizzie rides again and we think she'll go close. It's only a question of whether there's a better horse in the race this time round to take it on.
General Principle is a decent horse and had his day in the sun when winning last years Irish Grand National off a mark of 139 for Gordon Elliott. The horse ran a nice race in the Thyestes two runs back when 5th. He had todays rival Up For Review 12L in front of him. He was getting 2lb from that one then and is again getting 2lb from that rival. I'm not sure if General Principle will reverse the form but the stiff finish here will suit. General Principle's main focus this season is the Aintree Grand National. I think the horse will be ridden very patiently in this race and could run through them late for a place but I don't think he's one for win purposes.
The Willie Mullins trained Up For Review was a talented novice chaser last season and placed in a Grade 1. He ran a nice race on his only start this season in the Thyestes when 3rd. He was kept wide throughout by Paul Townend and finished nicely. The key to this horse though is the ground. He's best on a sound surface. He won't want the ground to get too soft. If the forecast rain doesn't arrive this horse will be bang there but a lot of the weather reports have a high chance of rain. Calipto is another horse who needs good ground to be seen at its best. He's been improving of late with the step up in trip. He may just be too high up the ratings to win this handicap.
The main dangers to Coo Star Sivola on form look to be Mister Whitaker, Give Me and Copper and Minella Rocco. Mister Whitaker won a novice handicap at this festival last year over 2 miles 4f. He's had 3 runs this season over 2 mile 4f. He won first time up and was then 4th in two decent handicaps including one over this course. I just think this horse is too far up the ratings to win a race like this. The horse has never run over this trip either which is a major doubt. You really need a horse with confirmed stamina in this. Give Me a Copper was highly regarded from a young age but the horse has had its problems. He's very lightly raced for a nine year old. His chase form isn't exactly great though. He ran off the bend as a long odds on favourite on chase debut and then won a bad two horse race. He was off 2 years after that win and returned to the track in February when 4th to Classic Ben at Sandown. The horse ran a very nice race but faded from 3 out. He will have badly needed that run and I think he may well need this run also. One major negative about this horse is his trainer. Paul Nicholls's has a terrible record in recent years over fences at this course.
Minella Rocco has by far the best form in the race. He won the 4 mile novice chase at this track in 2016 beating subsequent Gold Cup runner up and winner Native River. This horse finished 2nd to Sizing John in the 2017 Gold Cup, He had Native River in behind confirming the previous form. Somewhere down the line after that run this horse completely lost its form. He was off the track for over a year and has had two recent runs in which he showed no hint of ability. Either this horse has completely lost all ability or this horse has been stopped with this race in mind. Given it's connections Jonjo O'Neill and J P McManus I would not rule it out. Jonjo has a great record in this race and he usually keeps one for it every year. Minella Rocco had a peak mark of 166 post Gold Cup 2nd. He now only has a mark of 152. The handicapper has been very lenient dropping this horse a stone. The horse has been an antepost gamble of land but the money for the horse has dried up of late. I'm guessing that's because this horses best form is on good ground. If the horse is back to his best he'll go and win this race but it is a big "if". I'd much rather side with Coo Star Sivola who is getting 10lb in weight from Minella Rocco. Horses have won this race back to back in the past. I just think he's the safest bet in the race each way. General Principle will outstay most of these and I think he'll be ridden for a place. He's worth a small each way bet also.
Selection: Coo Star Sivola 10/1
?/? 6 Places Each Way (BetVictor)
Outsider: General Principle 20/1
? 6 Places Each Way (MoPlay)
Race 4: Champion Hurdle - 3:30 PM
This years renewal of the Champion Hurdle shapes up to be a very good race. It sees last two years winner Buveur D’air versus the battle hardened mare Apples Jade and the up and coming mare Laurina. The Nicky Henderson trained Buveur D’air beat My Tent or Your to win this race in 2017 and last year beat Melon. Those Champion Hurdles by standard weren't the best but he did win both and comes here in his bid for 3 in a row looking to emulate the mighty Istabraq. Buveur D’air is beatable though as shown in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. He lost out to stablemate Verdana Blue. Barry Geraghty, Buveur D’air’s jockey wasn’t at his best that day but the horse was a very disappointing 1/4 shot. He since won the Contenders Hurdle a race he previously won before winning this race. He didn't have any competition in that race and won without being asked much. No horse since Istabraq has won this horse 3 years in a row, while Buveur D’air is a good horse I don’t think he’ll win it again this year. We’ll have a changing of the guard.
Apples Jade is a tough mare who has been in rude health this season winning all four of her starts. A Grade 2 and three Grade 1’s including the Hattons Grace Hurdle over 2 mile 4f , the Leopardstown Christmas over 3 miles and then the Irish Champion Hurdle over 2 mile. There were some doubts about this Gordon Elliott trained mare before the Irish Champion Hurdle in regards to the drop back in trip. She showed no issues with the trip and was an all the way 16l runaway winner from Supasundae and Melon. She stays, has won at the festival before and she will take lot’s of catching. Given how well she beat Melon, even though Melon may not have been fully fit you would think that this mare is as good as if not better than Buveur D’air. There’s just one thing about Apples Jade that stops me from believing she is banker worthy though. She was beaten by Benie Des Dieux at odds of 1/2 in last years Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. She got taken on for the lead and she didn't seem to like it. She got outpaced turning for home and ran on again over the last flight over 2 miles 4 furlongs. That result wasn’t a fluke as she placed behind the same rival at the Punchestown Festival. Apples Jade had things her own way this season, she hasn't been taken on for the lead. I like her chances to finish in front of Buveur D’air but I've a nagging feeling that she might be done for pace rounding the final bend.
The one I really like is the Willie Mullins trained mare Laurina. She’s 6 from 6, has age on her side and looks to have a real engine. She won the Mares Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last season on soft ground by a huge margin of 18 lengths. Which is the 4th biggest margin of victory in the history of this festival. The 18 lengths really could have been 40 lengths, she breezed through the race showing pure class and won effortlessly. Yes the form of the race wasn’t the strongest but it was the way in which she won that took my eye. She’s only had 2 runs this season and the level of opposition was poor but she was never out of 2nd gear in any of those races and won them both so easily. She has the most potential of all the horses in the field and we really have not seen the best of her yet. Her trainer Willie Mullins has won this race 4 times in all. He won it in 2015 with Faugheen and in 2016 with the mare Annie Power. I don’t think he’s had the quality of horse to win it the last two years. Mullins ran Footpad in 2017 (3rd) and Melon last year (2nd). I don’t think neither of those horses had the potential or the engine that this mare Laurina has. and both of those pushed Buveur D’air close. The fact that Mullins run’s Laurina in this race and not Benie Des Dieux who’s previously twice beaten Apples Jade is a tip in itself. They must hold Laurina in higher regard than that mare. She’s been shortened in the market a lot ever since her trial win 2 weeks ago. She’s as low as 3/1 in places now and I really think she will be the favourite on the day. She’s till available at 4/1 with William Hill and Betfair. The race she won last time out was also the race that stablemate Annie Power won before winning this race.
Of the others the Willie Mullins trained Sharjah is not without a chance. This horse was only a fair novice hurdler last season and was something of a shock winner in the Galway Hurdle last July. This 6 year old gelding beat 2/5 priced stablemate Faugheen in the Morgiana Hurdle and then beat Supasundae by 3l in the Ryanair Hurdle with Melon a further 4l behind. He’s beat most of the same horses that Apples Jade has beaten. On that line of form Sharjah has his chance in this race. Ruby Walsh has chosen to ride Laurina though and it never was even a question would he. Sharjah could well run into a place but for me he isn't good enough to win a Champion Hurdle.
Buveur D’air will have his followers in his bid to win this race 3 years in a row but I think he’ll come up short this time around. Both Apples Jade and Laurina are in receipt of 7lbs from Buveur D’air, Sharjah, Melon and most of the field. The mares allowance helped Annie Power win this race in the past and I believe it will prove crucial once more. I really like Apples Jade, she tough out and stays very well. Her form on Soft and Heavy isn't the best so she will be looking for good ground, given the forecast rain it's unlikely she gets it. I just have that nagging feeling that she may lack pace rounding the final bend. She will no doubt run all the way to the line but I just think Laurina will have too much pace and class for her. It’s a bold shout picking Laurina over the proven Apples Jade and 2 time champion Buveur D'air but we’re making it. Ruby compared her to Annie Power and he said he wouldn't swap her for anything in the race. Most of her form is on heavy or soft ground, she won on good to yielding last time out but really I don’t think there’s any ground issues with her. I think Sharjah is value each way at the current odds too but for win purposes we’re all over Laurina.Selection: Laurina 7/2
???? (Bet365 )
Outsider: Sharjah 18/1
? 3 Places Each Way (Matchbook)
Race 5: Mares Hurdle - 4:10 PM
This race has only had 11 renewals. There's no real clues to be taken from the trends guide other than one major one, Willie Mullins horse's in this race have been head and shoulders better than the rest. Willie Mullins lost our to Apples Jade in this race two years back but won it easily last year with Benie Des Dieux making it 9 out of the last 10 in this race for Willie. Bennie Des Dieux was unproven at the time but was very impressive when beating Apples Jade todays favourite for the Champion Hurdle. Benie Des Dieux confirmed the form of that race by following up in a Grade 1 at the Punchestown festival last April again beating Apples Jade easily. This years race looks an easier race for Benie Des Dieux to win. There's no other proven Grade 1 performers in this race other than stablemate Limini who won the mares novice here 2 years back.
Last years Mares Hurdle was run on heavy ground and it's safe to say Benie Des Dieux likes some cut in the ground. This mare has not run since winning at Punchestown in April but Willie Mullins is the master of keeping a mare for this race. Quevega the wonder mare won this race 6 years in a row for Willie Mullins. She only had two runs every year, she'd win here and then win at Punchestown. Willie recently said this horse doesn't need much racing, she does a lot at home and thrives on that. He tried to run her few weeks back but the ground was too fast for her. He wasn't worried though about not getting a run into her. She's the best mare in the field and will take a world of beating if on her day. Willie Mullins has a few in here to ensure of a strong gallop. He's had the runner up in the race a few times when he's won it. Stormy Ireland who was 2nd to Laurina last time out, albeit beat a long ways looks to be the one to chase Benie Des Dieux home in this race. It might be worth looking at that one in the betting without market. Momella is another at a big price who could place but Benie Des Dieux is our best bet of the day and should destroy these if on a going day. Ruby said its his best chance of a winner of the week and we think she'll win. She could run up a sequence of wins in this race just like Quevega did for her trainer.
Selection: Benie Des Dieux 5/6
Race 6: Close Brothers Handicap Chase - 4:50 PM
This is the toughest race of the week to pick the winner of so we won't be going into too much detail in it nor having any solid selections. This race is a novice handicap chase run over 2 mile 4f. There's only 7lb between the whole field though so it isn't really a handicap. You can't really go on the trends in this race because the results have been random and not followed a pattern. You couldn't rule out any horses from winning this race. If you have a fancy in it, we won't put you off it but for us this race comes down to four horses: A Plus Tard, Cubomania, Tower Bridge and Riders Onthe Storm. They are all Irish trained horses who have showed a decent level of form in Irish novice chases and handicaps. A Plus Tard is the least exposed horse in this race. This ex French horse has just had 6 runs and only 3 for it's current trainer. This horse finished 2nd in a beginners chase on debut for the yard and then beat an unfit Duc Des Genievres in a beginners chase at Naas. It's most recent run came when runner up to Winter Escape in a grade 3 novice chance. He was given a mark of 144 after that race and get's into this race with 1lb to spare. He seems to be a decent prospect but at 11/2 he's not much value in a wide open race. There isn't much between A Plus Tard and Riders Onthe Storm based on their form. This horse has a similar profile, had 3 runs over chases and got a mark of 140 to run in this handicap. I think he looks well handicapped at that mark and is sure to run a good race but this race is too wide open to have a strong opinion on.
Cubomania has a course and distance win in this unlike most. Course form is a big plus but this horses form isn't overly exciting. He's had 12 runs over fences and looks the most exposed horse in the race. The one we're gong to go with in this is the Joesph O'Brien trained Tower Bridge. This horse is the only Grade 1 winner in this race. That win came over hurdles last season at Leopardstown. The form of the race wasn't the strongest but it was still a grade 1 win. The horse also has course form. He was 5th in a large field in the Albert Bartlett Grade 1 Hurdle at last years festival. Two horses who finished in front of him Ballyward and Ok Corral will fight out the final race on the card today. Tower Bridge's next run was also in a grade 1 where he finished 3rd to RSA hope Santini at Aintree. This horse had 2 beginners chase runs this season on good ground. He hated the ground both times and we're to believe they ran it on that ground purposely so it wouldn't run up to form. On it's most recent run he was 2nd to Duc Des Genierves at Gowran. He was beaten a long ways but showed improved form on the soft ground. His chase mark is a few pounds lower than his hurdle mark so one could say this horse is well handicapped. We think Tower Bridge is the best of an average bunch in this race. The best trend in this race is to follow horses with 1st time head gear. Tower Bridge and Dell Oro are the only 2 horses with 1st time headgear. Dell Oro will had the ground, Tower Bridge seems the logical selection.
Selection: Tower Bridge 15/2 ?/? 6 Places Each Way (Betway)
Race 7: National Hunt Chase - 5:30 PM
If this race was a handicap it would be a wide open race but it is not, most of these horses run off of level weights and over half of the field have little or no chance at the ratings. The cream of the crop always come to the fore in this 4 mile Novice Chase. A lot of these horse's are unproven over the trip too and will be beat rounding the bend. The Albert Bartlett is generally the best trial for this race. This race sees last years Albert Bartlett 4th Ballyward face the 2nd in that race Ok Corral. The ratings suggest Discorama being the only other horse with a chance of winning. The top 3 are between 9lbs and 31lbs better than the rest. All three will be held up in this race and the trends suggest hold up horses do best. This race is also amateur jockeys only. It really proves key to follow the top jockeys riding the top rated horses in this race. Top rated Ok Corral will be ridden by Derek O'Connor who has a great record in the race. This horse was doing his best work late over 3 mile in last years Albert Bartlett. The winner Kilbricken Storm just got first run on him. This horse doesn't have proven form over this trip, not many of these do but the horse has shown that these marathon trips will be right up it's street. This horse has a touch of class about it and could be a Gold Cup contender next year. This horse is 2 from 2 over fences. He beat todays rival and stablemate Impulsive Star on chase debut by 2L. It was his first run since last years festival and he needed it but he still won handily. Derek O'Connor travelled over to ride this horse on his other start in a Listed 3 mile chase at Wetherby in January. That was a real sign then that O'Connor would be riding this horse in this race a few months on. The horse beat a decent but small field and oozed class throughout. The horse jumping was very good and he didn't look like a novice. His owner J P McManus has a decent record in this race and has won it 6 times. Derek O Connor is 1 of 4 jockeys in the race who are near professionals. The rest of the jockeys won't be too good in the saddle. He's won the race twice and placed several times. This horse is the highest rated horse in the field, has the best jockey in the saddle and has potential to be a Gold Cup contender. It will take a real good one to beat it.
Ballyward looks the main danger. Willie Mullins has a decent record in this race as does his jockey Patrick Mullins who is very capable. Ballyward was beaten 3L by Ok Corral in the Albert Bartlett at last years festival off level weights. He has it to do to reverse the placings with that one but has potential. He also has had just 2 chase starts. Was 2nd on chase debut and won a graded race on his last start. He was impressive that day and the form of the race is solid. Ruby Walsh said that this horse is slow and has been backward but given that it's running in a 4 mile race as a novice it's no surprise really. Stamina shouldn't be underrated in this race. I think Ballyward will be bang there at the finish I just think Ok Corral is the better horse. Discorama is the only other one that looks to have a chance on ratings. This horse finished 2nd in the Martin Pipe Hurdle at the festival last year. He went the handicap route unlike Ballyward and Ok Corral. It was a decent run and that race has thrown up some good staying types. Discorama has some jumping issues though over fences and isn't the safest option. He won on debut over fences and then ran 5th in the Grade 1 Drinmore. He looked outpaced then and didn't jump too well. That day he looked like a horse crying out for a step up in trip. He was coming to win the race last time out and fell at the last. That race was then won by Ballyward. It would have been close between the two if he stood up. Another thing against Discorama is it's age. 6 year olds have a poor win record in this race but I think the horse can place. Ok Corral and Ballyward will fight out the finish to this race. We're nailing our colours to the mast with Ok Corral though. If he stays he wins.
Main Win Selections:
Benie Des Dieux 5/6
Main Each Way Selections:
Coo Star Sivola 10/1
?/? 6 Places Each Way (MoPlay)
Tower Bridge 15/2 ?/? 6 Places Each Way (Matchbook)
? 3 Places Each Way (MoPlay)