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Ross O’Sullivan: My fancies for every day of the Festival

10 Mar | news | BY Ross O’Sullivan | MIN READ TIME |
Ross O’Sullivan: My fancies for every day of the Festival

The Betway ambassador runs through the cards across all four days of Cheltenham and reveals the horses that stand out based on word on the grapevine.


There are some good words around FIREFOX / in the Supreme (13:30). He scoped badly after his last run, and he didn’t run too badly. Apparently he’s working well at home and they’re confident about him. He beat Ballyburn earlier in the year and I think he could run a massive race.

It’s such a shame that Constitution Hill isn’t running, but at least it’s not a career ending injury and he will be back to try and regain his crown next year. With that said, the connections of STATE MAN / won’t mind the fact that he’s missing. They’ve now got a great opportunity to win a Champion Hurdle (15:30) and, bar any mistakes, he really should be winning as he likes.

LOSSIEMOUTH / is in a different league to the other mares, and it looks a formality for her to win the Mares’ Hurdle (16:10). She would have had a solid chance in the Champion Hurdle, but this game is all about winners and that’s what Rich and Susannah Ricci and Willie Mullins want, so it’s not a surprise she’s running here.

Eagles Reign / runs in the Boodles (16:50) for us. His owner is very happy to have a runner and we’re under no illusions that it’s going to be a very stiff task. He was a good winner at Punchestown last time and will no doubt be winning more races in the future. It’ll be great for young Tom Harney to have a spin around here, too. To be honest, it’ll be a great experience for everyone involved and we’re really looking forward to him taking his chance.

CORBETTS CROSS / has clearly been laid out for this all year and I think he’ll take all the beating in the last (17:30). To be honest, as long as Emmet or Willie Mullins win the race then I’ll be happy as it has been named in honour of Maureen, who sadly passed away recently.


BALLYBURN / looks the best novice in Willie’s yard so he’d probably have won whichever race he went for. Willie has plenty in the Supreme and the Gallagher (13:30) looks a weaker race, so he should be getting punters off to good start on Wednesday in what could be really good day for Willie.

He’s likely to have the next winner on the card in FACT TO FILE / . I’m a huge fan of the horse. He skipped his novice hurdle campaign to go straight over fences from Bumpers – a method that has worked for Willie before. They think he’s a Gold Cup horse for next year, so he’ll need to be winning this really, and I think he’s going to be very tough to beat in the Brown Advisory (14:10).

I’m a little bit worried about the jumping of El Fabiolo in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (15:30). He’s a very good horse, but he’s not the slickest jumper and that can catch you out at Cheltenham. If JONBON / brings his A game, then he really could put it up to him, so I’ll side with him.

The big caveat is that Nicky Henderson’s yard are not having a good time of it of late, but you’ll know by the end of Tuesday how they’re performing as he has a few fancied runners. CAPTAIN GUINNESS / will be ridden cold and I think he’ll nick a place, too.

COKO BEACH / is the one I like in the Cross Country (16:10). He’s just a grand horse who loves the game. You know how he’ll be ridden, you know what you’ll get from him and, to me, he’s more reliable than those at the head of the market who are either ageing or are not going to totally love the ground.


ZANAHIYR / has mixed it at the top level over hurdles and is unexposed over fences and, for that reason, I think he’ll run a massive race in the Turners (13:30). He’ll certainly outrun his odds. His jumping wasn’t foot-perfect last time but he still managed to win, which is a plus.

ENVOI ALLEN / will love the soft ground and, if it stays that way, he should be winning back-to-back Ryanair Chases (14:50). There’s plenty of talk about what good form he’s in, so that’s always a positive. If the ground came up good, then Banbridge would have to be on your radar, but it looks unlikely at this stage.

NOBLE YEATS / could spring a bit of a surprise in the Stayers’ (15:30). He was impressive last time and we know he stays having won a Grand National. He’s only nine and may still have an ounce of improvement in him, especially over hurdles.

Brighterdaysahead / has been the talking horse for a while now. I know how much they all really like here and the way Gordon [Elliott] talks about her suggests she’s a horse of the highest order. I’m not sure she’s a betting proposition for me in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (16:50), but the word has been very, very strong.

INOTHEWAYURTHINKIN / has clearly been laid out for the Kim Muir (17:30). He’s got top weight, which is always tough, but look at his form. He’s been running against Grade 1 horses and will no doubt be ridden by Derek O’Connor, which is a huge advantage. Gavin Cromwell does very well at this Festival and knows what it takes to get one ready.


MAJBOROUGH / ran really well at the Dublin Racing Festival and I think he’ll beat Sir Gino in the Triumph (13:30). I know how much they think of this horse at home. He could be a very good horse and, with that experience from his run last month under his belt, he should come forward.

LECKY WATSON / has caught the eye a few times in his career but none more so than last time. I’m just hoping he takes his chance in the Albert Bartlett (14:50). He’s the type who will stay all day, so the longer trip of this race could bring our further improvement.

GALOPIN DES CHAMPS / is the best horse in the Gold Cup (15:30) and, if he turns up in the same form as last year, I don’t think anything will get near him. He’s solid. He’s looked very good again this year and it would be a real upset were he not to win.

QUAI DE BOURBON / could be, to use the old cliché, a graded horse in a handicap (17:30). They believe he is way ahead of his mark and I don’t doubt that at all. He could cap off a great week for Willie in a race in which he’s done well in the past.

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Ross O’Sullivan

Ross O’Sullivan

Emerging Kildare-based trainer and one of Betway’s stable of racing ambassadors.

Ross O’Sullivan

Ross O’Sullivan

Emerging Kildare-based trainer and one of Betway’s stable of racing ambassadors.