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The Cheltenham Festival is just six weeks away, and our antepost podcast series is in full swing as Paddy’s roster of top tipsters bring you their early fancies for the meeting.
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A potential dream clash between Bob Olinger and Galopin Des Champs could happen in the Turners Novices’ Chase – the opening race on day three – and our resident jockey-turned-pundit Ruby Walsh has a clear preference between the two.
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“I’ll be with GALOPIN DES CHAMPS. A lot depends on what he does at the Dublin Racing Festival on Sunday and how he jumps. If he were to put in another spectacular performance like he did at Christmas then I can see Willie Mullins sticking to the shorter trip where speed and jumping is more important.
“Galopin Des Champs won the Martin Pipe Hurdle last year at Cheltenham and he’s probably in everyone’s minds as a three-miler, because he won last season’s Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle at Punchestown. However, that that was probably more to do with Willie dividing and conquering, as he already had Gaillard Du Mesnil for the 2m 4f option with Bob Olinger not running there.
“We never saw Galopin Des Champs as an out-and-out three miler. We know he stays but jumping looks to be his biggest attribute and I’d be surprised if Willie doesn’t utilise that asset. I don’t think he’d have a jumping advantage on Bravemansgame, but he could on Bob Olinger.
“Bob Olinger’s jumping is very safe, which is why he’s potentially a Gold Cup horse in the future, and he could be vulnerable at this trip against something like Galopin Des Champs with the undulations of Cheltenham and where the fences are positioned. If he’s in any doubt he’ll take the safe option, which is perfectly fine but it does cost you energy and time.
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“With Ferny Hollow out of the Arkle, Blue Lord is more likely to stay at two miles. He ran in the Supreme Novices Hurdle last year and his two runs this year have both been at that distance.
“Saint Sam and Haut En Couleurs both won beginners chases around the Christmas period and how they fare at the Dublin Racing Festival this weekend will clear the waters for Cheltenham. It looks like Capodanno will step up in trip and Willie hinted that Sunday’s Naas winner Stattler, will run in the National Hunt Chase.
“Frank Hickey’s favourite horse, Jungle Boogie, is a little bit betwixt and between, but I’d be surprised if he were to come down in trip for the Arkle. I don’t think his jumping was as strong as the others so going up in trip might suit him better.”
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CHELTENHAM ANTEPOST TIPS
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