Eat, sleep, write a Cheltenham Festival article on a Willie Mullins favourite, repeat.
That pretty much sums up my life as the countdown to Cheltenham intensifies.
By the way we’re also on Twitter if you use it give us a follow people! Hopefully we can share some tips.
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— Cheltenham Tips (@CheltenhamTalk) January 28, 2016
The Champion Chase is the next race to go under by ante post magnifying glass and look, what do we have here?
Oh, another Mullins favourite at the head of the betting. Whether you think Mullins’ stranglehold on the sport is good or bad for the game, you’ve got to admit, it’s a fascinating spectacle.
Un De Sceaux is the Mullins hot pot flexing his muscles at the head of the Champion Chase market. After his latest win in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot, he is now a best priced 10/11 to land the championship two mile event.
He’s got everything you need in a top class two mile chaser. Speed, guts and strong staying capabilities. He rightly heads the betting and many of his followers will be confident heading to Cheltenham – the scene of his Arkle Chase victory.
However, he is a Mullins favourite that can be taken on – and I haven’t said that often in the last few weeks. This horse has a jumping error in him as shown by two falls in his career, including one this season.
He’s actually a very fluent, well measures jumper but he has quirks that can get his mind off the job. In a race that is going to be run at a fair clip, one mistake will be costly against this opposition, which although isn’t the deepest in terms of ability, certainly has talent dripping from all angles.
It’s for that reason, I’m taking him on.
Sprinter Sacre is the next in, according to the markets and at 5/1 he’ll tempt a few in. I was back on his bandwagon after his sensational comeback at Cheltenham earlier this season but he looked a different horse at Kempton, where he struggled to put away Sire De Grugy. On that Cheltenham run, he’s got a big shout of testing the favourite but this horse is such a fragile animal these days and I’ve got my doubts whether his body can cope with the demands of a Champion Chase.
Sire De Grugy has been put in his place by both aforementioned rivals this season – he’s impossible to fancy while Dodging Bullets – the reigning champ – has had an interrupted campaign and last year’s race was arguably the poorest from a form perspective for 20 years.
I doubt whether he’s good enough. You can almost scratch Vautour from your thinking, too.
Despite this test looking made for him, it’s unlikely Mullins is going to run two of his best horses against one another. Whether that is wrong or right, we have to completely respect Mullins’ decision. The Ryanair looks his for the taking.
Paul Nichols’s Dodging Bullets could offer the most siginificant value in the race.
Last year’s winner was beaten by 10l by Top Gamble in the Game Spirit Chase, but Nichols himself admitted that the horse had only done 8 weeks work after his setback.
He should appreciate the better ground at Cheltenham and at 12/1 provides plenty of each way value.
Un De Sceaux still looks the one to beat, albeit at prohibitive odds.
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