In the final contest on Tuesday’s card, the National Hunt Chase could see an unprecedented clash between two exciting prospects.
Royale Pagaille, who stormed into the limelight after an impressive victory in the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase in January, has seen his price significant trimmed for this contest in recent weeks.
The seven-year-old is now as short as 6/4 in some places, suggesting that his connections have resisted the temptation of a Gold Cup tilt and have decided to target the Grade 2 contest instead.
Venetia Williams’ mount dismounted long-time market favourite Galvin from the top of the betting earlier in the week, who has been equally impressive this season.
The seven-year-old came second to Imperial Aura in the now-defunct Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase last year and has continued to progress, winning all four starts over fences this term.
He has been kept fresh purely for this contest, with his last run coming at Prestbury Park in October.
It could potentially be a three-way tussle, should Paul Nolan decide to send last season’s Albert Bartlett runner-up Latest Exhibition here.
The eight-year-old has finished behind Monkfish three times in the last year, and it seems that Willie Mullins’ talented novice could just be too good for him.
The gelding does hold entries in the Marsh Novices’ Chase and the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, but he would have to take on Envoi Allen and Monkfish once again.
Paul Nolan has expressed his desire to win and to ‘not finish second again’, so it would not be the biggest of shocks if Latest Exhibition did end up in this race.
One of the few horses to beat Monkfish, Longhouse Poet got his season back on track with a win in a Beginners Chase at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve.
Martin Brassil’s gelding is relatively unexposed and could well be open to further improvement, with his 12/1 price tag kicking up some each-way value.
Welsh Grand National winner Secret Reprieve holds an entry in this contest, and the seven-year-old would be well in the mix if Evan Williams doesn’t swerve this for the Grand National.
Paul Nicholls’ Next Destination will only run in this contest is there is no cut in the ground, while Lord Royal holds Willie Mullins’ only entry in this race and will be a shorter price on the day.
An interesting contest to round up the opening day of this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
- Royale Pagaille @ 2/1 (William Hill)
- Longhouse Poet E/W @ 12/1 (Coral)