Galopin can grab the glory
Turners Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
AS the most likely destination for Bob Olinger and Galopin Des Champs, Thursday’s opening race will be as eagerly anticipated as the clash between Shishkin and Energumene.
Galopin Des Champs is the more extravagant jumper of the two and his attacking run style is ideal for the course which would have me siding with Willie Mullins’s gelding.
Allaho all the way again
Ryanair Chase (Grade 1)
ALLAHO was impeccable at his fences on his most recent start at Thurles so even if Shan Blue can match the Cheveley Park Stud-owned gelding over the early fences, I fully expect a repeat of last year’s all-the-way win.
Conflated may present a challenge late-on if he can produce a similar finishing effort to Leopardstown after being asked to go much faster earlier in the formative stages of the race.
Porter has spring in his step
paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
THE recent resurgence in form of the Gavin Cromwell stable bodes well for Flooring Porter attempting to record back-to-back wins in the centrepiece for staying hurdlers.
The son of Yeats looked to have matters under control when falling on his seasonal debut at Navan and was again unlucky at Leopardstown over Christmas, I expect him to make amends on the big day.
Party looks a perfect play
RYANAIR Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)
?PARTY Central may only have won a handicap at Leopardstown on her most recent outing, but the race was notable for a strong early pace like a graded contest.
Gordon Elliott’s six-year-old travelled with ease and was value for more than the eventual winning margin as she idled when getting to the front. She rates my best bet over the four days at an attractive each-way price. Dinoblue was impressive on the clock at Clonmel but those who finished behind her have failed to live up to the time-figure achieved leaving me doubting the rating.
Piper to call the tune
JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)
VAUBAN was a very impressive winner of the Spring Juvenile at the Dublin Racing festival clocking the fastest closing sectionals on the Saturday and I would expect him to confirm the form with Fil Dor.
However, in Fil Dor’s stablemate Pied Piper he has a more serious rival. Formerly with John Gosden on the flat, the son of New Approach has taken well to hurdling and for me displays the best technique at his obstacles. In winning over course and distance Pied Piper won with any amount in hand and ran a comparable overall time with the older Cormier who landed the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso and is on course for the £100,000 bonus offered by the Borders track.
Hillcrest can hit the heights
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
?HILLCREST announced himself as a future star at Cheltenham’s New Year’s Day meeting and after a blip back at Prestbury Park he posted the strongest staying performance by a novice hurdler this season when winning at Haydock.
The feature of his Haydock win was his closing sectional being faster than Triumph Hurdle bound Porticello after covering a mile further.
With Hillcrest’s ability to find an extra gear when challenged I have Henry Daly’s giant seven-year-old winning the day.
A Plus Tard to have his day
Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1)
THE Savills Chase holds the key to the Gold Cup as I anticipate the race to be run in a similar manner and become as much a test of speed as stamina in the absence of a confirmed out-and-out front runner.
Galvin challenged last at the Dublin venue over Christmas and no doubt Davy Russell will hope to repeat the dose when it matters the most in the Gold Cup.
However, Henry de Bromhead’s stable is in much better form now than over Christmas when the stable was particularly quiet in terms of winners, so I am anticipating an improved performance from A Plus Tard.
I was impressed with the way the Kapgarde gelding jumped at Leopardstown as he was much improved on last year at Cheltenham, a similar round of jumping will see the eight-year-old land the Blue Riband of chasing at the expense of Galvin, now is not the time to desert the Cheveley Park Stud-owned eight-year-old.
I also have a healthy respect for Tornado Flyer who was arguably coming home strongest of all behind Allaho in the Ryanair Chase last year and with a King George VI to his name I can see him leading home the Willie Mullins representatives.