Willie Mullins looks like he’s going full-out attack in his bid to capture the trainer’s title based on the level of entries he’s made at this fixture, and although most of his Cheltenham Festival heroes will naturally claim the limelight throughout the three days, TURBAN (best price 33/1) can go some way to adding to that vital prize-money column in this prestigious race over the famous Aintree fences.
The son of Dom Alco has dined at the very top table throughout the majority of his career and as a result, he’s become increasingly difficult to place over the last year or so. To his credit, however, he’s still turned in some notable performances in recent times, the pick of which was when he finished fourth under a big weight in a viciously-competitive 2m 4f handicap chase at the Punchestown Festival towards the backend of last season. Prior to that smart effort, he’d also shown up prominently for a long way in last year’s renewal of this race, and it’s that display which suggests he could well be overpriced at 33/1.
Jumping cleanly through the early exchanges, the nine-year-old had worked his way in to contention by halfway and despite being hampered by several loose horses from Becher’s Brook onwards (Foinavon and the one after Valentine’s), he was looking very dangerous when disaster struck at the third from home. Taken wide to avoid yet another rider-less horse, he just seemed to be put off by that manoeuvre momentarily, but it was enough for him to take his eye off the ball and hit the fence halfway up. Whether he would have won, is obviously open to question with still over half-a-mile to run, but given the way he was travelling at the time, he surely would have been involved in the finish.
Having had just the one run this season – a sound third in the Bobbyjo at Fairyhouse 48 days ago – it seems as though connections have targeted this race once again in a bid to right the wrongs from twelve months ago and although it would be great to see Ruby Walsh choose him over the other four Mullins entries, Paul Townend would a more than able deputy.
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