Gitane Du Berlais To Land Ryanair Gold Cup
All eyes will be on Easter Sunday’s Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse (4.20), where Willie Mullins has two of the first three in the betting, although the ground is set to ride very testing.
Mullins means Business
One who won’t mind the ground or trip is Willie Mullins’ 5yo mare, Gitane Du Berlais (7/4), who won a Grade 1 at Sandown (2m4f, soft) before winning over hurdles in France last month (2m2f, heavy).
Interestingly, only one female has ever lined-up for this race in the last 10 years, resulting in victory for Like-A-Butterfly in 2005, so the age/sex weight allowance Gitane Du Berlais receives will make her a dangerous customer.
Mullins also has Valseur Lido (7/2), who was 15l behind Vautour in the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham (2m4f, good). Prior to that, Valseur Lido was narrowly beaten by Apache Stronghold at Leopardstown (2m5f, yielding), although he did beat that rival 8l over Sunday’s C&D in November (soft).
Testing ground won’t be a problem for Valseur Lido on Sunday, and the fact he won 50% or more of his career chases (2-4), has proven a good sign in the race down the years…
Of the last 10 Gold Cup winners…
9 returned 12/1 or shorter
9 were Irish-bred
9 won 31% or more of their career chase runs
9 made the top three last time out
8 had only 0-1 previous runs at Fairyhouse (19%) – others were 2-37 (5%)
N Meade won it twice
Meade Tries Again
Noel Meade’s, Apache Stronghold (7/2), who was 15l behind Vautour in second at Cheltenham, and will be giving it his best to try and go one better. His trainer, Noel Meade, has won this race twice in the last six years and while his defeat of Valseur Lido in February suggests he will not be far away. The ground, however, may be a problem if it remains heavy, and his followers will be hoping the sun dries the track out in time.
Gilgamboa Back Up In Trip
This trip of 2m4f could suit Enda Bolger’s, Gilgamboa (6/1), who won a Grade 2 at Limerick (soft) on Boxing Day, before finding the step back to 2m1f the last twice against him. He will need to improve in this grade, but could make the frame at each-way odds.
Of those available at double-figure odds, The Tullow Tank (10/1) needs to improve upon his 8l fourth to Apache Stronghold at Leopardstown in February, while Tony Martin’s, Noble Emperor (16/1), was beaten 4l in a Grade 2 in February prior to falling in a Grade 3 last month.
The fact not many females have entered this race down the years suggests Willie Mullins rates Gitane Du Berlais highly, and the generous 15lb weight allowance could be enough to swing things her way.