Allaho, who was third in last year’s Albert Bartlett and then second in Punchestown behind Minella Indo, makes his second start over fences. He was beaten by Easy Game in Leopardstown at Christmas but I think he’ll be much too good for the opposition.
This one is a cracking race. Willie Mullins is well represented but so are a few other trainers; Minella Melody for Henry de Bromhead, Colreevy, Yukon Lil and Dolcita for Willie, Gin on Lime for John Harrington. I’m not even sure how you split Willie’s three runners, you can make a case for each one. Dolcita was very good in Tramore, Yukon Lil was brilliant in Naas and Colreevy got over the line in her second start in Limerick. Colreevy was the best bumper mare but I just think Yukon Lil is starting to bring her homework to the track so she’s the one I would chance here.
I’m going for a horse that you’re probably tired of hearing me talk about and that is Jon Snow. He’s been third in his two starts over hurdles, over two miles in Cork. We got it wrong over Christmas with him giving him two and a half. He doesn’t need two and a half, he drops back to two miles on Saturday.In a double with Allaho, that could be profitable.
I don’t think the top English horses are in here but Monte Cristo for Nicky Henderson makes his debut in England. He has an official rating of 140 which gives him an edge in this race. His last start was in Auteuil where he beat 15 rivals, Daryl Jacobs takes the saddle. He’s the interesting one for me.
Top Ville Ben steps out of handicap company and Slate House comes here off the back of winning the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton at Christmas. It’s a really good contest this, something is going to put its hand up to be a Gold Cup horse. Santini has been talked up by Nicky Henderson for a long time, De Rasher Counter won the Ladbrokes Trophy and Bristol De Mai is a game servant. I think class is permanent so I’m going to go with Bristol de Mai.
Protektorat lost the race here and then got it back on his last start, he’s a fair enough horse. Harry Senior for Colin Tizzard, King Roland for Harry Fry and Rocket Lad represents Ireland and Emmet Mullins all contest. Rocket Lad has an official rating of 145, which puts him right in the mix and Brian Hayes rides him. But for me, I really like the way King Roland got to the line on his last start at Exeter and I think he’s the one for them all to beat.
If The Cap Fits and Summerville Boy are going to try and take on Paisley Park. I’m a huge Paisley Park fan. He’s a very good racehorse and is one of the best – if not the best – horse in training. I think he’ll be very hard to beat. Officially, If The Cap Fits has only three pounds to find with him, Summerville Boy has 10 pounds to find but with eight runners it does add an each-way angle. I think Summerville Boy is a great each-way bet here.
Champagne Well was a good second on his last start at Cheltenham; Boss Man Fred represents the Skelton yard and he’s sure to have a big chance as well. However, I think the flat track will suit Champagne Well. He didn’t quite get up the hill at Cheltenham last time and I think he can go one further this time.
The very gallant and the very game Lady Buttons will be the one to beat. Simple as that.
- Fairyhouse 12:25 – Allaho
- Fairyhouse 14:10 – Yukon Lil
- Fairyhouse 14:45 – Jon Snow
- Cheltenham 12:40 – Monte Cristo
- Cheltenham 14:25 – Bristol De Mai
- Cheltenham 15:00 – King Roland
- Cheltenham 15:35 – Summerville Boy (each-way)
- Doncaster 14:05 – Champagne Well
- Doncaster 14:40 – Lady Buttons