Paul Jacobs: Gloves are off between Mullins and Elliot ahead of final two days

Our expert tipster Paul Jacobs looks at the battle between the top two Irish trainers and gives his thoughts on the action so far…


Now the shackles are off between Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliot after the sure thing of the Cheltenham Festival, Samcro, obliged in the Ballymore.

Impressive? Yes! A world beater? NO!! Emphatically no. Jack Kennedy quite obviously went too soon on the winner, but his partner was good enough to get him home.

The main point that really struck me was the way he put the race to bed coming down the hill. That turn of speed points to him being a Champion Hurdle charge and that is where I would firmly point him next season.

I also think it is a case of Arkle winner Footpad, definitely not being a Champion Chaser in the making, following his epic Arkle success, but a Gold Cup horse.

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Apart from that Horlicks of a mistake at the sixth he was (excused the pun) foot perfect and he won this race on two accounts. Firstly, Ruby Walsh stuck to his original tactics by letting Petit Mouchoir and Saint Calvados set the race up for him and secondly, he pulled clear due in the main to his immense staying power.

To my eyes, he will see off three and a quarter miles no problem at all and I prefer him to RSA winner Presenting Percy, as we get a changing of the guard for the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The first two days have also confirmed to me that Davy Russell is one of the finest horseman around, on a par with Ruby (errrr I hope my PP colleague isn’t reading this). He just plotted his way around in the RSA and made it look ridiculously easy, something it definitely isn’t.

What has been overlooked has been the story of National Hunt Chase, in what turned out to be a gruelling four miles for the amateur riders.

Of course, Patrick Mullins can also be described as half amateur, half professional and he gave Rathvinden a most lovely ride through the two and a half circuits, sitting with a double handful until the last obstacle. After which he had to get serious with his charge up the run-in to get the better of that gallant mare Ms Parfois.

However, whereas William Biddick rarely resorted to the whip, Mullins was overly heavy handed on the winner and subsequently received a hefty ban.

To you and I who regularly watch racing it wasn’t the kindest on the eye, but just think about those people who only pop their eyes into the world of equine racing for the Derby, National and Cheltenham Festival?

The other fact that went unnoticed was the huge gamble on this 10-year-old. Available at double figure odds, he was backed off the boards down to 9/2. So, you could say he was ‘expected’.

And most probably from the same source the money that shifted Min in the market in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, starting at half the odds of the mighty Douvan.

And boy did Douvan look mighty until his fall from grace at halfway.

The post-race interviews from both P W Mullins and W P Mullins suggested they both expected such a performance up to that point, which made me scratch my head as to why he started a weak third favourite.

And my final thought for the halfway chat is to wish Ruby Walsh the speediest of recoveries, it looked a nasty fall off Al Boum Photo and I hope he’s back in the saddle soon.

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What do you think?