Andy Holding focuses on the Irish challengers on day three of the Cheltenham Festival.
1.30 JLT Novices' Chase
Vautour turned in the most stunning performance of the festival in this race last year and while it would be foolish to suggest OUTLANDER
is capable of running to that sort of level, Willie Mullins’ charge has a lot of similarities to his stable mate. 3-3 since embarking on his chasing career, the son of Stowaway posted his best set of figures so far to date when scoring in decent style at Leopardstown last time and as he’s one of the few previous Grade 1 winners in the line-up, he looks the one most likely to put it up to the ante-post favourite Bristol De Mai. BACK HERCULES
is a rather surprising entry in this race given his main target seemed to be the National Hunt Chase and with the ground drying out all the time, he may just find this an insufficient test. Back on genuine fast ground, ZABANA
comes back into the equation following a slightly below-par performance behind Outlander last time out and as he proved in the Coral Cup last season, Andrew Lynch’s charge is capable of running to a high standard when conditions are in his favour.
Outlander - 1pt @ 5/1
2.10 Pertemps Final
LEAVE AT DAWN
has to be a serious contender based on his smooth success over the course earlier in the season and the way he was ridden in the qualifier at Leopardstown and rested since, suggests connections have had this race in mind for some time. Others to consider are top-weight TAGLIETELLE
, who ran well in last year’s Coral Cup, and MALL DINI
who qualified for this race with a solid effort at Leopardstown and has run well in two competitive handicaps since.
Leave At Dawn - 1pt @ 7/1
2.50 Ryanair Chase
posted a worldy performance over this C&D under similar conditions at last year’s festival and even though the re-routing of Willie Mullins’ charge hasn’t pleased everyone in the game, the decision to avoid the Gold Cup and come here looks the logical and sensible one based on all known form. The two logical dangers – if there are any – appear to be the other Gold Cup swervers ROAD TO RICHES
and VALSEUR LIDO
and both would have a chance of picking up the scraps if the favourite somehow fails to run his race.
Vautour - 1pt @ 10/11
3.30 World Hurdle
Based on his performance against Thistlecrack at Aintree last season, ALPHA DES OBEAUX
looks the obvious one for the each-way bandits and with his canny handler stating that his charge will appreciate the better ground, this hugely-consistent six-year-old has a place finish at worst written all over him. Although MARTELO TOWER
has a bit to find with Mouse Morris’ charge on their Gowran clash, better ground will provide the son of Milan with some sort of chance of turning the table and he rates the best value option of the outsiders.
Alpha Des Obeaux - 1pt @ 8/1
4.10 Brown Advisory Handicap
Not a race the Irish have a particularly enviable record and with only four representatives in this year’s renewal, the chances are slim the raiders are likely to buck the trend. Of the quartet, EMPIRE OF DIRT
easily makes the most appeal and at least he arrives here of the back of a confidence-boosting winning performance at Leopardstown last time out.
Empire Of Dirt - 1pt @ 20/1
4.50 Mares'Novices Hurdle
Said to be the backer bet of the week by connections, LIMINI
is bound to have a wave of support behind her and being as this inaugural running of this race lacks any great strength in depth, Willie Mullins’ charge looks set to deliver the goods. Although she’s a difficult one to assess in many ways, the daughter of Peintre Celebre does look as though she possess a decent engine and as she’s already proven on a decent surface, it would come as a huge body blow to the yard if she were to fail to deliver the goods.
Limini - 1pt @ 5/6
5.30 Kim Muir Chase
Having landed the National Hunt Chase at last year’s festival, hopes are high that CAUSE OF CAUSES
can repeat the dose for his in-form handler. Although he’s yet to recapture his very best form in three outings this season, the ground would have against Gordon Elliot’s charge on each occasion and with last year’s winning pilot set to do duty in the saddle, the combination are very much shortlist material. Of the rest, SAMBREMOUNT
has an abundance of stamina in his locker and also has a decent amateur on board, while THE JOB IS RIGHT is always worth considering at a big price given his record in big-field strongly-run handicaps.
Cause Of Causes - 1pt @ 13/2