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Ruby Walsh has spent the past weeks running the rule over the contenders at this year’s Cheltenham Festival – where Paddy Power is offering non-runner money back on all 28 races so there’s no risk of losing out if your pick withdraws.
As part of our special ‘Countdown to Cheltenham‘ podcast, Paddy’s resident jockey-turned-pundit has been offering his tips for a host of renewals including the four championship races – the Champion Hurdle, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle and the Gold Cup.
Ruby’s sharp insight can hopefully help you narrow down your selections as we edge tantalisingly closer to Festival week…
HONEYSUCKLE was better at Leopardstown than she has been at any stage in her career, although her first Hatton’s Grace victory where she beat Bacardys by a long way [at Fairyhouse in 2019] was a pretty dominant display as well.
I can understand why connections left Leopardstown in 2020 and decided to go to the Mares’ Hurdle, not the Champion Hurdle. Getting back up to beat Petit Mouchoir didn’t scream to me that you’re going to win the Champion Hurdle. But when you watch her this year in Leopardstown winning the Irish Champion Hurdle, absolutely trouncing Abacadabras, Saint Roi, Sharjah, Saldier and Petit Mouchoir… if you own her, train her or ride her, you would be thinking “yeah, let’s have a go at the Champion Hurdle”.
FULL PREVIEW: CHAMPION HURDLE ANTEPOST BEST BETS FROM RUBY WALSH
It has been a stop-start career for the supremely talented CHACUN POUR SOI. He’s a very, very good horse but he just has to go and deliver on the biggest stage at Cheltenham to be considered a great horse. I hope he gets the chance to do it. Chacun Pour Soi’s in great form and he looks the best in the field.
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There has to be clashes and big names in every sport and the Stayers’ Hurdle division is lucky it has PAISLEY PARK and THYME HILL. All is set fair for them to go at each other for a third time this season at Cheltenham. It will be a really good race and it’s easy enough to see why people would be split.
Paisley Park’s struggle in last year’s race was probably a one-off but I think Thyme Hill is the most likely winner. I’ve been a fan of his and I fancied him in the Albert Bartlett last year so I think he’ll get his revenge.
It will not be straightforward, but AL BOUM PHOTO is the most likely winner. You may not want to back him now, but I would be getting on him before racing starts on Tuesday because if Willie Mullins gets on a roll at the Festival – and he’s got a lot of really well-fancied horses – he will be plenty short enough, whether the public get into him or not. If it goes the other way, you can always back him again, but if he rolls in then you will have missed the price.
FULL PREVIEW: GOLD CUP ANTEPOST SELECTIONS FROM RUBY WALSH
*Paddy will be all over your telly box throughout the Cheltenham Festival sponsoring ITV’s live coverage from Prestbury Park – and you can get free and exclusive tipping columns EVERY DAY from Ruby Walsh, Matt Chapman and Mick Fitzgerald here on PP News.
Read More on Cheltenham 2021
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- Cheltenham tips: Frank Hickey’s Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle antepost selections
- Cheltenham tips: Frank Hickey’s Gold Cup antepost shout