Willie Mullins enjoyed a magnificent opening day to this year’s Cheltenham Festival and the all-conquering trainer can strike again today, with RSA favourite Don Poli (2:05).
The six-year-old won the Martin Pipe at last year’s festival and is two from two over fences to date, beating the smart Apache Stronghold (Grade 1 winner since) at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Today’s quicker ground shouldn’t be an issue, given his form here last year and also when runner-up to Beat That at Punchestown, and he is fancied to stay on best of all. His inexperience is a slight concern, but this is potentially a future Gold Cup horse and he can maintain his unbeaten record.
In the same ownership, I expect a big run from Wounded Warrior but the ground is of slight concern for Noel Meade’s runner, with the trainer often keen to point out he requires a bit of juice underfoot.
Paul Nicholls’ Aux Ptits Soins is very interesting in the Coral Cup on his British debut, having won impressively at Auteuil in September, in a race that has worked out pretty well.
He could easily be well in, but it is a big ask for a five-year-old with just two runs over hurdles to his name, so instead I can’t help giving another chance to Dell’ Arca (2:40) at 25-1.
Fifth in last year’s race off just 3lbs lower, David Pipe’s gelding was unfortunate not to win here on trials day (probably would have won if the final hurdle hadn’t been omitted) before disappointing under top-weight at Taunton.
Hopefully the combination of the first time blinkers and returning to a big field handicap will help him bounce back, and he looks worth an each-way interest.
The other one I like at a price is top-weight Volnay De Thaix who I think will relish the drying ground and has the class to go well off a lofty mark of 158.
Another handicapper to back each-way is Arabian Revolution (4:40) in the Fred Winter, for John Ferguson and Barry Geraghty.
The grey also sports blinkers for the first time and has won twice from three starts over hurdles, scoring impressively at Sandown and latterly at Huntingdon. His only defeat came at the hands of the classy Beltor, to whom he was trying to concede 7lbs at Ludlow in January.
Dan Skelton’s Zarib has a similar profile and is another who can go well.
14:05 Cheltenham Festival: Don Poli; 2/1 bet365
14:40 Cheltenham Festival: Dell’ Arca; 20/1 Skybet
16:40 Cheltenham Festival: Arabian Revolution; 10/1 betvictor
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