Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
Sports | By Jonathan Ford

Buveur D'Air proves champion once more at Cheltenham

Buveur D'Air proves champion once more at Cheltenham

Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh combined for their first victor at this year's Festival with 6-to-5-on favourite Footpad claiming the Arkle.

He warmed up for this by demolishing a strong field in the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown last month and is seen by the thousands of pilgrims at Cheltenham as one of the bankers of their week. He was again entrusted with favouritism, returned at 11-4 but, understandably, was rather uneasy in the market on this occasion.

"He probably was a neck down, but once he put his head down he knew exactly what he was doing".

The scintillating two-mile chaser - unbeaten from seven starts over fences - has always been regarded as the heir apparent to Henderson's Sprinter Sacre.

Kelly, who was unseated from Tea for Two at last year's meeting after lining up as the first female rider in the Gold Cup for 33 years, guided Coo Star Sivola to glory, edging out runner-up Shantou Flyer.

Rain is a great leveller however and, on the basis the surface will ride soft, or worse, Monalee is the choice to outstay him.

Owned by Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud, if he meets defeat then many of us, as the Ryanair supremo has pointed out, have been guilty of completely over-hyping the horse. He just didn't face the hood last time and he's a horse who's going to improve.

I hope Samcro delivers.

The Gordon Elliott-trained Glenloe looks a potential blot on the handicap in the Pertemps Final, while King's Socks is of major interest for the David Pipe team in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate.

He jumped and travelled quite beautifully for Jack Kennedy and never left second gear to beat Duc Des Genievres by five and a half lengths.

"He was tough and what a great race".

McManus won the champion hurdle three times with Istabraq and also had his colours carried to success by Binocular and Jezki as well as back-to-back wins by Buveur D'Air.

Thousands of horse-racing fans flock to the sleepy Gloucestershire town each year for the four-day annual event but it looks like some had a bit too much fun.

The Scout also bagged four more winners on day one of the Festival and has made his choice for the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday.

He has, however, been done for his wind, not to mention being lame on Monday and, in a race of imponderables, this is a heat I am more than happy to ignore for betting purposes.

A little each-way on one of the Mullins inmates, Carefully Selected, might reap a dividend. Michael loves his big chasers, but I wouldn't be afraid to bring him back in trip.

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