Wednesday’s Festival card continues with the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, with arguably the Irish banker of the week heading the betting.
Willie Mullins’ talented sort Monkfish heads to Prestbury Park in search of back-to-back Festival wins, after landing the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle last season.
The seven-year-old has taken to fences impeccably, landing three wins in his three starts over the larger obstacles.
That includes two Grade 1 successes, after claiming the Neville Hotels Novice Chase at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, before garnering plenty of plaudits for his Flogas Novice Chase victory at the Dublin Racing Festival in February.
He is the standout favourite for this contest and rightly so. Monkfish has shown himself to be a future Gold Cup contender and it will take something incredibly special to beat him here.
With Royale Pagaille most likely to head to the National Hunt Chase, it seems the next challenger in line is Henry De Bromhead’s Eklat De Rire.
The seven-year-old has won both of his runs over fences, including a Grade 3 at Naas in January when he saw off the improving Escaria Ten by 1 ¾ lengths.
He is a lightly-raced gelding which could be an issue, as runners with less experience tend to struggle in this contest.
There has not been a French-bred winner in this race since 2006, so Eklat De Rire will have to defy that stat as well.
The Big Breakaway could produce a big run here, and Colin Tizzard’s prospect is open to further progression.
The six-year-old finished fourth in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle last season and was last seen coming second behind Shan Blue in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Christmas.
Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard believes the gelding is the yard’s best chance of a winner at the Festival, and The Big Breakaway is known to go well when fresh.
Latest Exhibition has faced Monkfish three times in the last year and has finished behind him in second each time.
Paul Nolan’s latest comments on his runner could suggest the eight-year-old may avoid another clash with the favourite here and head to the National Hunt Chase instead.
Paul Nicholls’ Next Destination will run in this contest should there be cut in the ground, while Florida Pearl Novice Chase winner Pencilfulloflead may head here instead of the 3m6f contest on the Tuesday.
Could we see a future Gold Cup winner in Monkfish here? Racing fans will be watching with much anticipation.
- Monkfish @ 8/11 (Various)
- The Big Breakaway E/W @ 12/1 (Coral + Ladbrokes)