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The team at @Cheltstips2016 have given us a review of what they have learnt from the weekends racing, with cheltenham in-mind.

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With some strong racing, over in Ireland and a couple over here this weekend, it was probably the last time that we would see some of the superstars before the Cheltenham Festival, so we thought it may be appropriate to put a couple of pointers out that we found.

We’ll start with the 12;50 at Leopardstown, where Latest Exhibition got the better of Cobblers way and Longhouse Poet. Bryan Cooper knew he had plenty of horse here and did enough. Cobblers way looked strong a couple of furlongs out and finished a lot stronger than Longhouse poet pinching 2nd in the final strides. The one I was looking forward to watching was Elixir D’ainay, which it would be fair to say disappointed, finishing 5th, however it didn’t seem the most vigorous of rides from Mark Walsh. Skybet go as low as 5/1 for Latest Exhibition in the Albert Bartlett, (mainly as they are NRNB all races), Ladbrokes go 8/1 the same.

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Onto the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase, where Chacun Pour Soi & Min were the only 2 to take from this, completing a Mullins/Ricci 1-2, 24 lengths ahead of anything else, with only 4 of the 7 completing. CPS came out on top of a good battle, winning by roughly 3 lengths, however it was far from easy for the Mullins hotpot. I am sure Mullins will be pleased with the gallant effort of Min, who Ricci says owes him nothing, but there will be a lot of support at Cheltenham for this horse, who knows what it could have won had there not been a little known horse called Altior around at the same time as him. Min is now 4/1 for the Ryanair chase, whilst CPS is generally around 5/2 for the Champion chase where it could come up against Defi Du Seuil & Altior. Worth noting A Plus Tard was a NR here due to ground concerns.

The eagerly awaited battle between Fakir D’oudaries & Notebook, was avoided as the former was pulled out due to ground concerns. Being honest on this performance, I think Joseph O’Brien would have his hands full trying, to overturn the result of the last day. One area of concern may be the way Notebook carried on before the off, as he bolted and was very keen. From 2 out Notebook looked very strong, and could be a good thing, she was hard pushed to win, but did enough, and looked like she was pulling away towards the end. The Mullins trained Cash Back pushed De Bromhead’s closely, but just couldn’t find enough. Cash back can be backed at 6/1 for the Arkle, whereas Notebook is as short as 5/2.

In the Matheson – Éclair De Beaufeu beat Paloma Blue by a couple of lengths, this was set up to be a hell of a finish, 2 out they were level, over the last Paloma Blue & Goulane Chosen jumped into each other and it took a lot out of the latter. Of the front four Charlie Stout finished best. They clearly think plenty of Ecliar De Beaufeu, having ran in the same races as Notebook & Tornado Flyer (finished 3rd behind Faugheen & Easy Game 02/02). Éclair de Beaufeu is 12/1 for the Close Brothers Handicap, in what looks an interesting renewal with City Island heading the betting.

Honeysuckle went off 8/11 fav for the Irish champion hurdle, with the market suggesting the only competition would come from Sharjah. 2 out Petit Mouchoir looked to have the beating of De Bromheads stable superstar, and again over the last Honeysuckle pecked on landing and PM took over, however the young up and comer showed its class, getting its nose back in front. Special mention to Darver Star who finished like a train into 2nd. Sharjah disappointed finishing 6 lengths back in 6th. There is a mouth-watering battle taking shape for Cheltenham with potentially Honeysuckle vs Benie Des Dieux. For the Champion Hurdle, BDD is 5/2 fav, with Honeysuckle 7/2, maybe worth also noting Saldier (same connections as BDD) 8/1. If they decide the mares’ route is preferable, they bet 4/5 & 2/1 respectively.

Of the others, Thosedaysaregone, won nicely, doing enough to see off Golden Jewel & You Raised me Up. However, the performance of the day was possibly from the well backed Mullins horse Appreciate it. This blew the field away, winning by 7 lengths, and is now 3/1 favourite for the Champion Bumper. Eric Bloodaxe was hugely disappointing here, finishing 7th of 8.

Disappointingly over here Laurina was dreadful for a second time in a row, and I’ve doubt we will see here again this season. More interestingly, Mullins reported this afternoon that all the horses had returned to the yard with nothing major, therefore ruling out the bleeding of the last day. Itchy feet won this renewal, with Midnight Shadow & Champagne Platinum finishing 2nd & 3rd.

Onto Sunday, Elliott & Russell teamed up to claim the first with Black Tears, beating a battling Our Roxanne (should come on for the run) & Mullins trained Concertista. Interestingly, this race was won by Sassy Diva last year, that never made it to the festival, finished 7th at Fairyhouse in April and hasn’t been seen since. Black tears can be backed at 25/1 for the mares’ hurdle should that be the preferred route.

Interestingly, one of our team “snapped up the 3/1” about Aspire Tower minutes before the off today for the Triumph Hurdle, 3mins later it was 8/1 due to falling. Was it going to win? Not sure, I would like to have thought so, but if I had £5k on to win £2k, I wouldn’t have been ordering the champagne before it fell. A wave of the sea & Wolf Prince finished strongly to pip Cerebus to 3rd.

The performance of Sunday had to be Asterion Forlonge, who hosed up in the Novice Hurdle by 9 lengths. Interestingly, after the race, Mullins said “I didn’t think he was a 2m horse, I thought he was 2m6/3m. He’s never fast at home but showed an unreal cruising speed today. The plan is to keep as a 2miler, he looks like he could be a supreme Novice horse, however the owners have plenty of interest in that race (Shishkin)”. Shiskin is currently 4/1 fav for the SNH with Asterion Forlonge is 5/1 for the same race. You can also get 7/1 for the Ballymore (Against Envoi Allen).

Faugheen put smiles on faces on everyone’s face winning the 3pm, in a mullins 1-2-3-4. Defeating Easy Game/Tornado Flyer/Castlebawn West.  Joint favourite Battleoverdoyen fell 4 out, but Faugheen had him beaten already. Which has got everyone asking the question, can the twelve-year-old do it up the hill again? He is 4/1 for the marsh novice chase, but he could go anywhere.

Delta Work got the better of Kemboy and Presenting Percy, blowing the Gold Cup wide open. Over the last any could have won, however the front two pulled away slightly from Presenting Percy (who having rewatched the race would have had my money 4 furlongs out). Delta work showed real balls here and potentially showed a glimpse of what may come in March. Delta Work & Al Boum Photo (same owners as Asterion Forlonge & Shishkin) head the market at 5/1, alongside Santini (11/2), Lostintranslation(7/1), Clan Des Obeaux (8/1). Tough.

Of the others Glamorgan Duke (66/1 for the NH Chase), benefited from (in my opinion) Fitzhenry being hampered by a falling Articulum. Gordon Elliott had 5/6 fav in the last in Bigbadandbeautiful, and coming around the bend it looked as though it had it in the bag, however it tired drastically to finish 4th, another Elliott horse Darling Daughter won nicely by 4l. DD can be backed at 16/1 for the champion bumper.

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