Fri­day’s Ir­ish raiders

Irish Examiner - Racing - - CHELTENHAM PREVIEW 2017 - Jordan McCarthy

JCB Tri­umph Hur­dle

Mega For­tune stands out as the lead­ing Ir­ish chal­lenger fol­low­ing his top-level suc­cess at Leop­ard­stown.

Ba­paume was third to Mega For­tune the last day but has al­ready ac­counted for him this sea­son. He should step up on that lat­est ef­fort here. Merie De­vie was a good win­ner on de­but but would ap­pear to have a bit to find.

Best of the Ir­ish: Mega For­tune (top right)

Al­ter­na­tive: Ba­paume

Ran­dox Health County Hand­i­cap Hur­dle

Bre­lade has run re­ally well in Grade One com­pany this sea­son, fin­ish­ing sec­ond and third in his last two starts re­spec­tively, and he is open to ma­jor im­prove­ment on what is just his fourth run over tim­ber. He rates as the best chance for the vis­i­tors.

Top level win­ner Bleu Et Rouge is still rel­a­tively un­ex­posed and could spark on his re­turn to hur­dles.

Ivanovich Gor­ba­tov won on this card in 2016. He has failed to build on the prom­ise he showed in that Tri­umph suc­cess, though he is an in­ter­est­ing prospect in hand­i­cap com­pany.

Arc­tic Fire was sec­ond in a Cham- pion Hur­dle here be­fore, but he is bur­dened with top weight. Golden Spear leads the bet­ting for Ire­land but is un­likely to get to run.

Best of the Ir­ish: Bre­lade Al­ter­na­tive: Bleu Et Rouge

Al­bert Bartlett Novices’ Hur­dle

Ante-post favourite Death Duty could be ex­cep­tional and he gets the nod to come out on top in this three­mile con­test.

Gor­don El­liott’s run­ner is a per­fect four from four this sea­son and has pro­gressed nicely on each start. He seems very straight­for­ward, should take the step up in trip in his stride, and can jus­tify his trainer’s tall ex­pec­ta­tions.

Monalee has al­ready won at three miles. He would need to step up from his win at Clon­mel but looks like the type that could do so. He has out­stand­ing each way claims.

Au­gusta Kate was trav­el­ling well when com­ing down at the last in a race won by Death Duty.

That was only her sec­ond run over hur­dles and she should be open to pro­gres­sion. She war­rants re­spect.

Best of the Ir­ish: Death Duty Al­ter­na­tive: Monalee

Tim­ico Cheltenham Gold Cup

Djakadam bids to make it third time lucky in the Blue Riband event. Sec­ond in the last two edi­tions be­hind Coney­gree and Don Cos­sack, the eight-year-old ap­pears ca­pa­ble of go­ing one bet­ter here.

He has had a bet­ter prepa­ra­tion this time around and seems to show his best form at the Fes­ti­val.

Siz­ing John won the Ir­ish Gold Cup in good style. He does have course ex­pe­ri­ence, hav­ing placed in both a Supreme and an Arkle, and he is open to the most im­prove­ment at this trip of three miles and two. He should make a bold bid.

Out­lander won the Lexus at Christ­mas but dis­ap­pointed at Cheltenham last year. He cer­tainly war­rants re­spect but may find a few too good.

Don Poli was third in the 2016 run­ning and, while he ran well at Leop­ard­stown last time out, there are ques­tion marks. He does have stam­ina in spades, how­ever.

Cham­pagne West has been in good form since join­ing Henry De Brom­head. He won the Thyestes in ex­cel­lent fash­ion and adds fur­ther strength to the Ir­ish chal­lenge. Best of the Ir­ish: Djakadam Al­ter­na­tive: Siz­ing John

St. James’s Place Fox­hunter Chase

On The Fringe has dom­i­nated this divi­sion for the past two sea­sons and he is the lead­ing Ir­ish hope again.

Enda Bol­ger’s charge com­pleted the ‘fes­ti­val tre­ble’ in 2015 and 2016, and he re­mains on course for a re­peat bid.

He made a re­ally good sea­sonal reap­pear­ance at Leop­ard­stown and has been pleasing con­nec­tions in his work. He has had a smoother prepa­ra­tion this year and should hit the tar­get.

The Michael Barry-trained Sweet As A Nut could be an­other key player for the vis­i­tors. He was an im­pres­sive win­ner of a hunter chase at Lim­er­ick and took a Tal­low maiden in good style last time out.

He could have much more to of­fer in this type of con­test.

Best of the Ir­ish: On The Fringe Al­ter­na­tive: Sweet As A Nut

Martin Pipe Con­di­tional Jock­eys’ Hand­i­cap Hur­dle

The Sto­ry­teller has gen­er­ated mas­sive sup­port in the mar­ket in re­cent weeks.

He has been very im­pres­sive in his last two starts and his chance is re­flected in the bet­ting.

An­other El­liott run­ner, Mick Jazz, also looks to be on an up­ward curve. He won a Listed con­test last time out, and the move up in dis­tance could bring about fur­ther im­prove­ment.

Bat­tle­ford has run well at Chel- ten­ham be­fore and would likely be suited at this trip. Last year’s Cham­pion Bumper sec­ond may strug­gle to get in, though.

Best of the Ir­ish: The Sto­ry­teller Al­ter­na­tive: Mick Jazz

Johnny Hen­der­son Grand An­nual Hand­i­cap Chase

Dan­dridge is the pick of the Ir­ish in the fi­nal race of the 2017 Cheltenham Fes­ti­val.

Arthur Moore’s charge ran a cracker in this last March when sec­ond, and ran an­other great race when run­ner-up in a sim­i­lar event at Ain­tree off five pounds higher. Back on Spring ground, he is fan­cied to be in the mix again.

Ball D’arc comes into the race in great form, hav­ing won the Dan Moore Memo­rial Hand­i­cap en route to Grade Three suc­cess. There should be more to come from Gor­don El­liott’s steed.

The Jessica Har­ring­ton-trained Rock The World was third in this event twelve months ago and is just one pound higher in the rat­ings this time around. He should shape bet­ter than he has shown so far this term.

Best of the Ir­ish: Dan­dridge Al­ter­na­tive: Ball D’arc

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