Tuesday 20 February 2018

Cheltenham is a pilgrimage I'd like to make

John Mullane

IT'S that time of year again, when thousands of Irish people will make the pilgrimage to the Cheltenham Festival. I'm a big lover of horse racing and there's something extra special about Cheltenham.

I've never been there but now that I'm retired, that will change in a year or two. For a jockey or trainer, entering the winner's enclosure after a win must feel like winning an All-Ireland medal. This is the World Cup of horse racing.

I made a few bob on Real Madrid's 2-1 win over Manchester United, as predicted in last week's column. I have five tips up my sleeve for Cheltenham.

In the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase on Tuesday, Cantlow could be a good investment. Owned by JP McManus, it fits the distance bracket and won't mind the testing ground. He can go all the way if he improves on his jumping.

Also on Tuesday, I'm backing Une Artiste to stop Quevega's 'drive for five' in the Olbg Mares' hurdle.

On Wednesday, Pont Alexandre is my nap of the Festival, in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle. And there are two for Friday – Ballycasey from the Willie Mullins yard in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle and Salsify in the Foxhunter Chase.

Ballycasey is a long-term chasing prospect and a strong fancy from the Mullins yard, and Salsify is a good bet to successfully defend the Foxhunters Chase, won in dramatic fashion last year. Cheltenham can be hugely unpredictable but I'll be having a few quid on those five.

Irish Independent

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