WHAT a race we have in store to kick off Wednesday’s card.
The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (1.20pm) has produced some fantastic horses over the years like Istabraq, Hardy Eustace and Faugheen.
And one of the best may well turn out to be last year’s victor Envoi Allen – then under the care of Gordon Elliott and now with Henry de Bromhead – who could make it 12 out of 12 in the Marsh Novices’ Chase on Thursday.
De Bromhead has plenty of bullets to fire this week, though, and I strongly fancy BOB OLINGER to land this race under Rachael Blackmore.
Beaten just a length by last year’s Champion Bumper hero Ferny Hollow on his hurdling debut at Gowran Park in November, his last two efforts over 2m4f have been faultless.
I was particularly impressed with his effort in the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle in January, where he travelled and jumped brilliantly before sauntering clear of his rivals.
He just looks like a very classy horse and has to be the bet at 15/8 with Fitzdares.
It won’t be easy, though, with Gaillard Du Mesnil and Bravemansgame taking him on.
The former is two from three for Willie Mullins since coming over from France and he showed a good attitude at the Dublin Racing Festival over 2m6f.
Stamina clearly won’t be a problem, but the concern is whether he has the same speed as Bob Olinger.
Bravemansgame couldn’t have been more impressive in the Challow Novices’ Hurdle when last seen over Christmas, with trainer Paul Nicholls comparing him to Denman.
He is hugely promising and you can see him turning into a Gold Cup horse in a couple of years, but there is a slight doubt about the strength of that Challow form.
Willie Mullins doesn’t have a bad record in the Champion Bumper (4.50pm) – he’s only won it 10 times – and he looks to hold a particularly strong hand this year.
Kilcruit produced an unbelievable performance at Leopardstown last month, although they went a crazy pace that day and he may have been flattered.
I would favour SIR GERHARD who has been moved to Mullins from Elliott and was an excellent winner at Navan in December.
He could be another very good horse for Cheveley Park and is worth supporting at 2/1 with Blackmore in the saddle.
Bob Olinger 1.20pm Cheltenham (Wednesday)
Sir Gerhard 4.50pm Cheltenham (Wednesday)