Monday 20 November 2017

Great white hope can claim Gold for Mullins

Davy Condon

Davy Condon

THE final day and there's bleary eyes all around Cheltenham, but with the Gold Cup to come, there's no one going home just yet.

If you've been following Willie Mullins this week, you won't have done too badly and hopefully he can take the day's big race with Sir Des Champs.

It's an interesting renewal of the race. Long Run was a winner in 2011 when he beat Denman and he ran into third last year. He always seems to run well at Cheltenham, having also figured in the places in the 2010 RSA Chase.

As well as that, I'm told he's a different horse with cheek-pieces on and he is likely to travel much better than normal.

Bobs Worth was a winner here last year too (in the RSA) and Nicky Henderson's progressive gelding won the Hennessy at Newbury well, but I'm a big fan of our great white hope from the Mullins' yard, Sir Des Champs, and I won't be looking past him.

I hope he jumps well because if he does, he'll get the trip no problem and I can see him steaming up the hill.

Dessie Hughes' Our Conor gets the nod for the day's opening race, the Triumph Hurdle. He has won on both his runs this season, most recently at Leopardstown last month when he had five lengths on Diakali.

He has a bit of everything, having won over seven furlongs on the Flat, and also won over hurdles on soft ground, so he looks to the to beat.

I have a ride in the Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle (2.05) on Gordon Elliott's Shadow Catcher. Much like my success earlier in the week aboard stablemate Flaxen Flare, he'll need a return to the promise he showed as a juvenile to feature here, but you never know as he's like to appreciate the better ground.

But I watched Cotton Mill run at Newbury and I think Denis O'Regan's mount will be the one to beat. I know Gordon Elliott likes Discoteca in that race and if the ground stays dry, he could feature prominently.

I can't really see past At Fishers Cross for the Albert Bartlett at 2.40. Trainer Rebecca Curtis did warn supporters last week that he wouldn't want the ground too good as each of his four wins this season have come with plenty of cut.

Moving on to the Foxhunter, I'm going to go for Gordon's Backstage. He won his point-to-point a few weeks ago and I think he's a very classy sort. I expect him to run a big race.

The penultimate race on the card, the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, is another open affair where jockeyship can count for a lot in a field of up-and-coming riders. I'll go for Tony Martin's Edeymi to prevail. He was runner-up in the Fred Winter at this venue last year, so he acts on the track and looks weighted for another big run.

The final race of the day and, indeed, the Festival, could finally see an AP McCoy winner on Alderwood.

It's a tough race to call, but the JP McManus-owned gelding proved he can handle the track in last year's County Hurdle and has a nice racing weight. While still a novice over fences, the Thomas Mullins-trained gelding has picked up plenty of experience and can shine.

Irish Independent

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