Racing Weekly: Willie Mullins guessing game dominates Cheltenham build up

Racing Weekly: Willie Mullins guessing game dominates Cheltenham build up

Rishi Persad and Sam Turner take Racing Weekly viewers on a day-by-day tour of the Cheltenham Festival and discuss the rides for 2016 Gold Cup winning jockey Bryan Cooper.

Turner kicked things off by sharing his concerns for the chances of Jonbon and Constitution Hill in the Supreme, given that Nicky Henderson’s stable has been “bang out of nick”. He added that he’s had his colours nailed to the Dysart Dynamo mast ever since he blitzed the field at Punchestown.

Moving on to the Champion Hurdle, and he admitted that a win for Honeysuckle is maybe not the foregone conclusion it looked like being a few weeks ago. “I must admit, I couldn't back Honeysuckle at 4/7 now, I just couldn't,” he said. 

“Appreciate It has been parachuted into the race from nowhere really, Teahupoo put up a really good performance to win at Gowran, Adagio's confirmed that he's in good nick too. All of a sudden there's half a player, or a full player in opposition to Honeysuckle. I still think she's the most likely winner, but there's more strength in depth now."

Turner and Persad brought in the first guest to discuss day two, with bet365’s Paul Ferguson admitting that Willie Mullins has punters playing a guessing game for the Ballymore.

He explained: “This is one of the races more than any other we could do with knowing which horses Willie Mullins is going to run, which we probably won't know until declarations for the Supreme on Sunday. For me, either Dysart Dynamo or Sir Gerhard - whoever steps up in trip - would be the most intriguing runner and a worthy short price favourite in the market as it doesn't look a stellar running by any means.”

Ferguson admitted that punters looking at the top end of the Ballymore market should hold fire but conceded there could be value in the larger prices as three of the top five could potentially end up not running in the race.

To find the full interview with Bryan Cooper from 46 minutes, click here.

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The ‘guess the runner’ theme continued into Thursday’s preview with bet365’s Pat Cooney talking about possible ramifications for the Turners’. He said: “You'd like it to be Bob Olinger vs Galopin Des Champs. With Bob Olinger, as good as he is, he's only had two runs over fences - the stats gurus will tell you that you need three or four normally to win this race.”

Cooney later gave his best bet for the Festival, a 3/1 favourite in the day four Hunters’ Chase. “Billaway is still fair value at 3/1, he was only beaten a short head in the race a year ago, he was second the year before and he's been trained with this race in mind. 

“He wore first time cheekpieces at Naas last time out and jumped fences like a bunny rabbit. I don't think this year's race is any harder than last year's and there were 13 lengths of daylight back to the third on that day. No Porlock Bay this time, I think he could be a lot shorter.”

Sticking with day four and Turner shared this light take on the possible showdown between Hillcrest and Minella Crooner in the Albert Bartlett. “This race for me is like trying to pick between Kylie and Dannii Minogue,” he joked. “It's really tough for me to pick between the two of them. 

“If Hillcrest arrives in really good nick, and Henry Daley tells me that he's been great since Haydock, with his Cheltenham experience I'd probably just plump for him.”

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