Paul Carberry riding Son Amix at Cheltenham in 2011 BSI

Two Talking Points From Dublin Racing Festival & 3 Cheltenham Tips

With eight Grade 1s and plenty of other hot races run at Leopardstown over the weekend, we assess the impact on the Cheltenham Festival.

Moneybags Mullins holds all the cards . . .

There are eight Grade 1 races at the Dublin Racing Festival and Willie Mullins trained the winner of every single one.

His level of dominance is unprecedented and no one would back against him being the top trainer at the Cheltenham Festival and comfortably achieving the six winners he needs at this year’s meeting to take him to 100 career wins at the Cheltenham Festival as a trainer.

That is the headline, but the individual cases make for more interesting reading. Winners like El Fabiolo and Galopin Des Champs were primarily tightening their grip on their respective divisions. They are the likely winners of the championship chases at Cheltenham, the Champion Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Irish Champion Hurdle winner State Man would be similarly dominant in the Champion Hurdle division but for the presence of Constitution Hill, however notional that presence has been so far this season.

Ballyburn is a new name on the ‘Mullins bankers’ team sheet after his win in the 2m novice hurdle. He had already been among the favourites for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but his convincing success on Sunday carried him into 13-8 favourite for the Cheltenham Festival curtain-raiser.

Mullins has now won 11 of the last 12 runnings of this race. Four of those winners went on to win the Supreme.

. . . Unless you are talking about novice chasers

Meanwhile, the novice chase division has become a lot more open as the result of the DRF, not to mention the slight surprise sprung by Nickle Back in the Scilly Isles at Sandown on Saturday. Marine Nationale had been odds-on for the Arkle, but his defeat in the Irish version means he is now 2/1 against.

Gaelic Warrior has been similarly dethroned in the Turners betting following his tame reverse in a match with Fact To File. That horse is now Turners favourite, but backers of Ginny’s Destiny, advised in this column last week, will also be happier with the look of the market now.

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Turners Novices Chase Odds

Horses to back for the Cheltenham Festival

Ballyburn was arguably the revelation of the whole weekend and is worth backing in advance of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. All the main trials have now passed and it is likely that he will be shorter than 13-8 on the day. The race he won at the weekend is typically used by Mullins to prep his main Supreme hope.

Add to your Betslip – Ballyburn for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

It is also worth getting Conflated onside in the Cross-Country Chase. He might have been second in the Irish Gold Cup but for an unfortunate last-fence fall. He has shown loads more in regulation chases this season than his all-star rivals in the cross-country, Minella Indo and Delta Work. He should be shorter than 11-4.

Add to your Betslip – Conflated for the Cross Country Chase

Finally, there was a big eyecatcher in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle. Ethical Diamond made easy headway into the straight, befitting a highly-rated Flat horse who cost his current connections 320,000 guineas. He is 33-1 for the Triumph Hurdle. Have a small stake on him for that race now and keep a very close eye on his mark for the Boodles (he also needs one more run over hurdles in order to qualify), as it is possible he will be rerouted to that race with Sir Gino looking so ominous.

Add to your Betslip – Ethical Diamond for the Triumph Hurdle

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Cheltenham Triumph Hurdle Odds
*Prices subject to fluctuation
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