Friday’s Irish raiders
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)
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