The best of the green raiders
Douvan (Champion Chase, Wednesday): Only the already-rich could gain significant financial benefit from backing Douvan to win the Champion Chase, and that is a fair reflection of his apparent superiority in the two-mile division. With the exception of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle of 2015, he has started odds-on for all starts for Willie Mullins, and remains unbeaten since his debut in his native France, almost three years ago. Quite possibly one of the best horses ever to travel from Ireland to the festival, he should provide a first Irishtrained success in the race since Sizing Europe, in 2011.
Let’s Dance (Mares’ Novice Hurdle, Thursday): Quite possibly the bet of the meeting should she line up for the Mares’ Novice Hurdle on Thursday. Her performance against Slowmotion, at Leopardstown, was breathtaking and, while not as visually exciting last time, it’s quite likely we will see an even better performance this week. The trip may be considered on the short side, but she is a strong traveller, adept jumper, and has the pace to burn off her rivals.
Yorkhill (JLT Novices’ Chase, Thursday): An extremely talented horse, he upset one of the British bankers of the 2016 festival when proving too good for Yanworth in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle and, while his technique over his fences hasn’t impressed everyone, his class remains obvious, something which is not as apparent in his rivals. Top Notch looks the best of the British contingent, but lacks scope and will find these fences a true test.
Death Duty (Albert Bartlett Hurdle, Friday): One of last season’s top bumper performers in Ireland, he is unbeaten in four outings over hurdles, and is held in the highest regard by trainer Gordon Elliott, who has made favourable comparison to 2016 Gold Cup winner Don Cossack. Elliott is the coming force in Irish National Hunt racing, and yet there is a feeling this horse’s price has held better than if it were trained by Mullins. Will we reflect on this in years to come, and wonder why we didn’t take advantage when we could?
On The Fringe (Foxhunters’ Chase, Friday): The leading hunter chaser of recent seasons, On The Fringe won this race in 2015 and 2016 and, in both years, went on to complete the ‘festival treble’ by winning at Aintree and Punchestown. He is 12 years old, and has some young pretenders chasing his title, but his recent prep should have put him spot-on for this, and his experience can ensure he completes the hat-trick.