Cheltenham tips: The top 5 Irish-trained runners to back at the Festival

The Duke is ready to rumble.

Brendan Duke Poker Party


Final preparations are under way. I will be strapping on my sea legs come Monday. Here are some Irish horses I may entrust with my hard earned next week. All selections are 2/1 plus. I rarely bet at short prices though may make a rare exception for Envoi Allen. He’s a rare talent after all.



Notebook has done me a couple of good turns this season. There’s a strong resistance movement building against his Arkle claims. Paddy are currently 11/4. It’s not hard to envisage getting a bigger price come Tuesday morning.

The ground is probably the main factor. This race looks almost certain to be run on soft ground. That’s probably a slight inconvenience to Notebook. His main rival Fakir D’oudairies relishes deep ground. It was yielding when he went down to Notebook over Christmas. The problem for Fakir is he won’t be getting 7lbs from Notebook this time.

Fakir will be three months older granted. As mentioned before I think the weight for age scale is favourable to the four-year-olds. There is also a thought that Mark Walsh got the tactics wrong in Leopardstown. I don’t buy that. Notebook took the race away from him turning for home, and won a touch snugly in the end.

Notebook subsequently made hard work of winning at the Dublin Racing Festival. He beat a smart sort though and that form isn’t far off the level that will be required on Tuesday. He also showed tremendous heart. So we have a tough, improving, bold jumping novice chaser on our hands.

He should relish travelling just off the strong pace. Given so much in his favour, I fancy ‘The Book’ can cope with the ground negative.


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Chacun Pour Soi was an ante post bet for many. I thought that was madness. Granted, he had put up a mighty performance in Punchestown but we were dealing with a horse who had spent three years off the track through injury. Not an obvious long-term bet to me.

The believers look like being proved right. Bar a very late setback Chacun will line up on Wednesday. I will now jump on the bandwagon. Chacun should be favourite to my eye. His four length defeat of Min at the DRF looks the strongest piece of form on offer.

He would have won by further but for a slight mistake at the last. Jumping errors are a collectors item with this horse. That was Chacun’s fourth start since joining Willie Mullins. Further improvement looks likely. Altior still looks like a staying chaser masquerading as a two-miler to me.

He’s a warrior but pulling it out of the fire in this race will probably prove too much this time. Defi Du Seuil has looked very good in three wins this term. The form can be questioned though. Hopefully Chacun can take his measure again. I’ll take the 5/2.


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Appreciate It will carry plenty of Irish hopes in Wednesday’s bumper. He’s hard to knock but also a short price. Darling Daughter might be worth a speculative bet. This strapping mare is unbeaten in two starts for Gordon Elliot. She went off a big price in Leopardstown last time. Apparently she isn’t a particularly impressive work horse. Curiously enough I’ve heard the same about Panic Attack.

The form of that Leopardstown race has had a couple of boosts since. Both the subsequent winners were odds on so it’s probably best not to go overboard. Also Darling Daughter may have been at a tactical advantage in Leopardstown.

It paid to race handy in a slowly run race. It also helped that short priced favourite Bigbadandbeautiful raced keenly with no cover. Nonetheless, Darling Daughter was well on top at the line. The prospect of a more strongly-run race should bring her stamina into play. Soft ground looks another positive and the 7lb mares allowance isn’t to be sniffed at either.

She can outrun big odds.

Min ridden by Ruby Walsh clears the first on the way to winning The Racing Post Novice Steeplechase 26/12/2016

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I rate the Dublin Chase form in Leopardstown very highly. Min ran a fine race to finish second there. He won’t have to deal with Chacun Pour Soi in the Ryanair. He faces a worthy adversary in A Plus Tard but I feel that Min is the better horse. I’m surprised he isn’t favourite.

The theory that he doesn’t like Cheltenham is hard to credit. He ran up to form when chasing home Altior twice. Last year’s Champion Chase effort wasn’t great. Every horse is entitled to an off day though. He looked good when making a winning comeback in the John Durkan last November.

Maybe Min’s demolition job in Aintree last season was a bit flattering. He’s a top notch chaser all the same. Over what looks his optimum trip, he can prove himself again on Thursday. 11/4 looks perfectly fair.

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Finally to my bet of the week. Monkfish looks a very promising horse. I’ve somehow managed to avoid seeing him in the flesh. My credibility as a professional racegoer is clearly open to question. He looks a big unit on the telly.

Willie Mullins has mentioned that he doesn’t carry a huge amount of condition. That could mean the seven week break since his last run is a positive. He has taken a few runs to find his feet. He looked very sure footed when bolting up in Thurles last time out.

That looks decent form. Run Wild Fred, who looked booked for a distant second when falling two from home, has beaten a promising sort since. I love the way Monkfish attacked the last four hurdles in Thurles. Previously he had looked a novicey jumper.

The Albert Bartlett looks a hot race this year. The Fish will need to step up. I’m almost certain he will. The extreme stamina should be ideal for such a remorseless galloper. He’s 11/2 at the moment. It’s hard to see him being any shorter on Friday morning. Maybe best to hold fire until then.


*Prices and odds are correct at publication and are part of Paddy Power’s non runner money back offer.

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What do you think?