If we thought a Cheltenham with no crowd in attendance might have be unimaginable, try a four-runner, Irish only Grade 1 novice chase. It’s been hailed as a two horse race for some time and also assessed on a best horse v best jumping horse. At the Festival, jumping matters and while both were impressive novice winners here last year, Bob Olinger in a better race, he has just not looked the natural jumper that the Mullins horse has shown. Ridden positively, he can get Bob Olinger on the stretch and that horse is then going to have to really take on the fences in a manner he has yet to show.
Selection: Galopin Des Champs Next Best: Bob Olinger
A predictably tough handicap with the Leopardstpwn qualifier Winter Fog well supported for connections who won at the meeting with The Shunter last year. Gordon Elliott is well represented with the class of Sire De Berlais and the unexposed Dunboyne and Folcano. Alaphilippe has been put up across the channel but it might be worth going with the David Pipe-trained Remastered, back over hurdles. Peter Fahey’s Born Patriot could also give a good run for your money.
Selection: Remastered Next Best: Winter Fog
2:50 RYANAIR CHASE (GRADE 1) 2m4½f
Another solo for Allaho? There is little evidence that he won’t repeat last year’s brilliant win over his now ideal distance, with two goods wins on the board this season. Conflated’s Leopardstown win was a step up on his earlier from but he won’t be able to boss this. The dangers appear from Allaho’s own stable but it’s unlikely Melon can break his Festival duck here. Eldorado Allen won well at Newbury but he dictated that over the longer distance. Shan Blue was too keen in last year’s Marsh but his absence since his Wetherby fall in October, although planned by connections, might not be ideal. On the balance of his form, he’s no threat to Allaho. Saint Calvados might be the each-way choice as his run at Ascot was too bad to be true.
Selection: Allaho Next Best: Saint Calvados
A wide open Stayers where the last three winners line up again and both Paisley Park and Flooring Porter have strong claims. How much Wednesday's rain gets into the new course may also have an effect here. Tactics from the off will be the key if Flooring Porter has Klassical Dream to hassle him. Paisley Park looks in better form this season while Flooring Porter has done little wrong even if winless in three outings since his win here and his stable are in better form than before Christmas. Champ is a bit of an enigma while Thyme Hill looks sure to be involved.
Klassical Dream’s Punchestown win was the standout performance last season and he can win the battle of the front runners. Paisley Park can snatch second from Flooring Porter.
Royal Kahala is the intriguing one on her Gowran win but even with the mares’ allowance, you would think she still has a bit to find but the ground is in her favour.
Klassical Dream’s Punchestown win was the standout performance last season and he can win the battle of the front runners but the ground is a concern if he runs too free. Paisley Park can snatch second from Flooring Porter.
Selection: Klassical Dream Next Best: Paisley Park
Another impossible handicap. The Glancing Queen is popular but I don’t like her inexperience.
Imperial Alcazar impressed here in January and looks set for a bold show. Philip Hobbs Celebre Allen is on an upward curve and can give him another Festival winner.
Selection: Celebre Allen Next Best: Imperial Alcazar
Dinoblue is the talking horse on her single impressive win but stable companion Brandy Love has much stronger form. Her wayward jumping at Fairyhouse was a worry even if she is left-handed here, it should be resolved. Dinoblue is short enough in such a big field of unexposed mares.
This race has been a poor one for favourites recently and it looks more wide open than ever.
Party Central has a lot of experience but might find one or two too fast. Harry Fry's Envoi looks the best of the British.
Selection: Brandy Love Next Best: Love Envoi
It’s often best to go no further look at the jockeys first and Derek O’Connor has an able companion with the Paddy Power Chase winner School Boy Hours catching the eye. Mentioned as a Grand National possible by Noel Meade, he ticks all the boxes. Ain't That A Shame can make it an Irish one-two.
Selection: School Boy Hours Next Best: Aint That A Shame