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'Anibale' to fly home in blue riband while stamina of 'Delta' can make the difference


The Grade One Unibet Irish Gold Cup (3.35) at Leopardstown is tomorrow. Stock photo

The Grade One Unibet Irish Gold Cup (3.35) at Leopardstown is tomorrow. Stock photo

The Grade One Unibet Irish Gold Cup (3.35) at Leopardstown is tomorrow. Stock photo

There were a lot left with regrets after how the Savills Chase panned out at Christmas but they get the chance to put the record straight in the Grade One Unibet Irish Gold Cup (3.35) at Leopardstown tomorrow.

With a pedestrian pace set for the most part, it was more about speed than stamina and Kemboy dictated affairs from the front on the final circuit under David Mullins to come home a clear-cut winner.

Few were left ruing their luck more than Noel Meade after Road To Respect slipped twice at crucial stages and yet still ran on stoutly to claim third, a head behind Henry de Bromhead's re-opposing Monalee.

Road To Respect is skimpy enough in the betting as a result and offers little value, however, while De Bromhead has admitted that he has reservations about whether Monalee is an out-and-out three-miler in a truly-run race.

Bellshill was fourth that day and is not lacking class but considering his sketchy record around the Foxrock track reads 2-3-F-4, odds of around 7/2 at time of writing should be avoided.

Last year's victor Edwulf and Ryanair Chase winner Balko Des Flos were also down the field in the Savills Chase and need to bounce back to their best to get in the mix with the long-term form of that Grade One unlikely to stand up to any great scrutiny in time.

It may pay to look elsewhere as a result and having scored in Listed company at Tramore on New Year's Day when conceding weight all round - subsequent Thyestes winner and stable companion Invitation Only was back in third - there's a lot to like about Willie Mullins's Al Boum Photo.

Paul Townend is reunited with the seven-year-old for the first time since they threw away a Grade One at the Punchestown Festival when running out before the final fence and he'll be out for redemption, but his short odds are poor value in a competitive heat.

Anibale Fly is the one to side with instead. Tony Martin has waited patiently with last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup third and the nine-year-old has just one run under his belt this season having sharpened up over 2m in the Hilly Way at Cork in December.

If stamina really comes into the equation then Barry Geraghty's mount definitely won't be found wanting and at double-figure odds, he is the one to have on side as owner JP McManus bids for a fourth win in five years.

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The preceding Grade One Flogas Novice Chase (3.0) looks a cracking renewal with Warren Greatrex's front-running mare La Bague Au Roi making the trip across the Irish Sea to face a formidable home team.

The eight-year-old was a gutsy winner of the Grade One Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton on St Stephen's Day when denting big reputations in Santini and Topofthegame, and aided by a 7lb weight allowance she is likely to have most of the field under pressure approaching the home straight.

Delta Work is unlikely to be treading water, however, and Gordon Elliott's dual Grade One-winning chaser has stamina in abundance. His three chase starts may not have blown spectators away visually but there looks to be no end to his engine and Davy Russell's mount can wear down the pace-setting La Bague Au Roi in a fascinating duel between two big hitters.

Another intriguing clash awaits in the first of tomorrow's Grade One contests as Joseph O'Brien's Sir Erec and Mullins's Tiger Tap Tap renew acquaintances in the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle (1.15).

Rarely has there been a more exciting hurdling recruit than Sir Erec - third behind star stayer Stradivarius in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot last October - and he battled gamely to score on debut here at Christmas.

Given that Tiger Tap Tap was having his first run for 202 days when going down by a neck on that occasion, Ruby Walsh's mount could easily overturn that deficit in a race Mullins has claimed in three of the last four years.

Neither represent great value, however, and with great difficulty separating the pair it may be wise to stick with a more experienced challenger and Elliott's Coeur Sublime ticks a lot of boxes in this regard.

Coeur Sublime has excellent graded form and looked likely to score in a Grade Two at Christmas before hitting the deck. At around 6/1, Russell's mount shouldn't be out of the top three.

Only a stunning display from Samcro last season was able to deny Mullins a six-timer in the Grade One Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle (1.50) last season and he sends a quartet into battle. Walsh sides with Klassical Dream but may rue the decision as Aramon can back up his impressive Grade One victory at Christmas.

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