Tues­day’s Ir­ish raiders

Irish Examiner - Racing - - CHELTENHAM PREVIEW 2017 -

The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hur­dle

The Ir­ish have an ex­cel­lent record in the tra­di­tional cur­tain-raiser at the fes­ti­val, hav­ing won it 10 times since the year 2000.

Bunk Off Early (top right) was an im­pres­sive win­ner on de­but at Leop­ard­stown and fol­lowed up with a sec­ond place fin­ish in the Deloitte over two miles and two fur­longs.

Back in trip, over a fast-run two miles, Bunk Off Early should be seen to bet­ter ef­fect.

Mar­ket leader Melon has gen­er­ated a lot of in­ter­est in the build-up. He has had just one run over hur­dles — where he won in good style at Leop­ard­stown — but car­ries a big weight of ex­pec­ta­tion.

Best of the Ir­ish: Bunk Off Early Al­ter­na­tive: Melon

Rac­ing Post Arkle Chal­lenge Tro­phy

Although there was an Ir­ish onetwo in this race 12 months ago, the raiders could strug­gle to make the frame this time around.

With the tal­ented Yorkhill set to go else­where, trainer Wil­lie Mullins could de­pend on Royal Caviar.

He fell at the last when trav­el­ling like the win­ner in the Ir­ish Arkle back in Jan­uary. If his jump­ing holds to­gether here, then he could have a say.

Some Plan is three from four for the sea­son. He fell here back in Novem­ber when go­ing well, but got back to win­ning ways at Leop­ard­stown.

Best of the Ir­ish: Royal Caviar Al­ter­na­tive: Some Plan

Ultima Hand­i­cap Steeple Chase

This race has been dom­i­nated by the English for the past 10 years. No­ble En­deavor stands out as the pick of the Ir­ish run­ners. He landed a valu­able hand­i­cap chase at Leop­ard­stown in De­cem­ber and may have more to of­fer. He has a touch of class and should go close for Gor­don El­liott.

The novice, Marinero, has been run­ning well this sea­son and he is an in­ter­est­ing con­tender off a nice rac­ing weight. Pleas­ant Com­pany took the Grade Three Bob­byJo Chase last time out and he could run well.

Best of the Ir­ish: No­ble En­deavor

Al­ter­na­tive: Marinero

Stan James Cham­pion Hur­dle

The Ir­ish go in search of a fifth Cham­pion Hur­dle on the bounce, al­beit with­out a star hur­dler among them this time.

This year’s edi­tion looks wide open and the lead­ing Ir­ish con­tender would ap­pear to be Pe­tit Mou­choir. He was only eighth over course and dis­tance in the Supreme last year, but has won two Grade One con­tests this term. Although the form may not be all that strong, and he is likely at his best on a softer sur­face, he looks ca­pa­ble of giv­ing a good ac­count of him­self in a mod­est re­newal.

Foot­pad, run­ner-up in the Ir­ish Cham­pion Hur­dle, will be there to pick up the pieces if this turns into a real stam­ina test.

Best of the Ir­ish: Pe­tit Mou­choir Al­ter­na­tive: Foot­pad OLBG Mares’ Hur­dle

Last year’s win­ner Vroum Vroum Mag made hard work of her prep run at Don­caster but, if at her best — which she’ll need to be — should come up trumps here.

Jer’s Girl, a top-level win­ner, holds mas­sive claims on her re­turn from open com­pany. She should thrive over this longer trip and bet­ter ground will be a bonus.

Ap­ple’s Jade was run­ner-up in the Tri­umph last year and has since gone on to win a hat-trick of Grade Ones. Now trained by Gor­don El­liott, she fin­ished sec­ond to Li­mini last time out and should fea­ture again here.

Best of the Ir­ish: Vroum Vroum Mag

Al­ter­na­tive: Jer’s Girl

JT McNa­mara Na­tional Hunt Steeple­Chase

A Ge­nie In Abot­tle leads the way for the Ir­ish in this four-mile con­test.

He has per­formed re­ally well over three miles this sea­son and ran a great race when sec­ond in a Grade Three at Naas in Janu- ary.

This marathon trip could bring about fur­ther im­prove­ment and he holds lead­ing claims.

Ed­wulf landed a hand­i­cap over two and a half miles last month and shaped like he would stay fur­ther. He could run well for trainer Joseph O’Brien.

Best of the Ir­ish: A Ge­nie In Abot­tle

Al­ter­na­tive: Ed­wulf

Close Broth­ers Novices’ Hand­i­cap Chase

Squoua­teur was do­ing his best to­wards the end of a two-mile con­test at Naas the last day, and he should build on that ef­fort over fur­ther.

Heron Heights won at Cheltenham ear­lier in the cam­paign. He is for­given his lat­est de­feat which came over an in­ad­e­quate trip and on un­suit­able ground. He could make the frame for Henry De Brom­head.

Best of the Ir­ish: Squoua­teur

Al­ter­na­tive: Heron Heights

Jordan McCarthy

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