It looks a real clash of the best Ireland has to offer over the best of the English on day two of the Festival.
Battleoverdoyen has really impressed me with what I have seen. I think he has the potential to be even better on slower ground than he has been running on over the winter in Ireland. He is a tank of a horse and has a real presence about him. Champ has won all his starts this season but you just wonder what he has actually achieved? We will not know until the question is popped to him on the run to the last hurdle. It’s only then you really find out how good they are!
Battleoverdoyen gets the nod for Ireland.
Gordon Elliott is represented by last year’s Pertemps Handicap Hurdle winner Delta Work who has looked really good this season. He even beat Le Richebourg over 2m 4f and that horse was favourite for the Arkle before being ruled out. Santini made an impressive debut win over fences at Newbury and looked like he would just keep improving, but he looked slow when beaten by Le Bague Au Roi and Topofthegame at Kempton
If it turns into a real slog, he could well triumph. However, I really like Topofthegame. He was one of my horses to follow at the start of the season and I have not been disappointed. He was a very good second in a competitive Coral Cup here last season, carrying a huge weight.
He is the selection.
This race has cut up a little and Willie Mullins’ Uradel has gotten in. He is a worthy favourite on the back of a staying on fifth over 2m at Leopardstown, and was only beaten a neck in the 2m 2f Cesarewitch on the Flat at Newmarket. He will be better over this longer trip, but the one I like is Vision des Flos. He won at Fontwell and is also a Grade One winner over hurdles. He is carrying plenty of weight but he went through the race at Fontwell so easily. Definitely worth an each-way bet at around 14/1 in a race where Paddy’s paying the first five home.
Anybody who knows me, will know about my love affair with Altior. He is the best horse in training and will join the mighty Big Buck’s in the record books when he wins for the 18th consecutive time. Min can finish second for forecast backers as he is the second best horse at this distance.
This is a race you either love or hate – and it’s a real specialist’s gig. Last year’s winner Tiger Roll is a short-priced favourite and it is really hard to go against him. I have backed Ballycasey ante-post, but he was woeful at Punchestown over the banks. It transpired he got kicked at the start so you could forgive him that run. I can’t say I am overly excited – but my bet is still running!
I think Fact of The Matter will run well at a price if you don’t fancy taking short odds about Tiger Roll who is prone to the odd jumping howler.
I think Joseph O’Brien could have his breakthrough winner at this Festival and I really fancy Band of Outlaws to win here. I think he is still well handicapped off his mark and he bolted up last time out at Naas.
I backed Blue Sari for this race after his really taking win at Gowran Park. He fairly sprinted away from the field and while it wasn’t the greatest of races, the fact he is Willie Mullins only runner in this race is a positive.
*Prices correct at time of publishing