Cheltenham Festival tips – Five Irish outsiders to consider

Brian Healy picks out five Cheltenham Festival Irish outsiders to consider keeping onside at the greatest show on turf.

The 2020 Cheltenham Festival will soon be upon us and the annual Ireland v Great Britain battle for Festival supremacy will unfold for the Prestbury Cup.

While the Irish challenge will feature many big names amongst its ranks, we look through some of the possible members of the Emerald Isle battalion. Brian Healy picks out five Cheltenham Festival Irish outsiders who it could pay to keep onside and might be flying under the radar in their respective betting markets.

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL IRISH OUTSIDERS AT A GLANCE

SUPASUNDAE (33/1, William Hill – Champion Hurdle)
FIRST APPROACH (25/1, Unibet – National Hunt Chase)
BATTLEOVERDOYEN (14/1, Bet365 – RSA Chase)
REAL STEEL (14/1, William Hill – Ryanair Chase)
CHRIS’S DREAM (33/1, Ladbrokes – Gold Cup)

SUPASUNDAE (33/1, William Hill – Champion Hurdle)

This year’s Champion Hurdle looks far from being a vintage renewal and Jessica Harrington’s SUPASUNDAE could be worth a second look in what is likely to be a very open contest for the hurdling championship.

It’s hard to forget that the Galileo gelding is a multiple Grade One winner in his own right, winning the 2018 Irish Champion Hurdle and the Punchestown equivalent the following month. He also won last season’s Aintree Hurdle, beating Buveur D’air before suffering a reversal at Punchestown last May.

A highly versatile sort, he has contested between two and three miles and he has proven to be an ultra-consistent sort. He has only twice finished outside of the first three home in his last 15 starts which is an impressive sequence.

A previous Cheltenham Festival winner, beating Taquin Du Seuil in the 2017 Coral Cup, he finished runner-up to Penhill in the following season’s Stayers’ Hurdle. He has run at the Festival every year since finishing sixth in the 2015 Champion Bumper.

He’s ten now, but he showed he retains all his ability when finishing a very solid fourth of nine runners behind Honeysuckle in the recent Irish Champion Hurdle. He often needs a run and he’ll head to the Festival a fresh horse where he’ll strip fitter for the run.

His proven stamina for further could prove an asset and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him post a big run for all he might not quite be good enough.

Supasundae could be a big priced Cheltenham Festival Irish outsider in the Champion Hurdle.

Supasundae could be a big priced Cheltenham Festival Irish outsider in the Champion Hurdle.

FIRST APPROACH (25/1, Unibet – National Hunt Chase)

Point-to-point winner FIRST APPROACH won two of his first three starts over hurdles before being tried in Graded company, and he has Cheltenham Festival experience to call upon from last season’s Albert Bartlett Hurdle where he finished in mid division behind Minella Indo.

The Robin Des Champs gelding has found that rival to be a real thorn in his side, and he has tasted defeat on all three starts behind that one, including on his chase debut at Navan in January where he finished third and beaten around seven lengths.

That was his first run for almost seven months and it was probably needed; but he travelled and jumped well in the race, and he can improve for that first experience although being thrust into a race such as the National Hunt Chase where there’s usually no hiding place will certainly present an altogether different test for his jumping.

But he looked on his debut as if he’d appreciate a test and this much longer trip could bring out some improvement so he could feature if making the journey over from Noel Meade’s Meath base.

BATTLEOVERDOYEN (14/1, Bet365 – RSA Chase)

It is slightly concerning that BATTLEOVERDOYEN ran no sort of race here in last season’s Ballymore Hurdle where he pulled up having ran in snatches. However, he had created a big impression in his three wins previously which had included a Grade One win on just his second hurdles start at Navan.

Gordon Elliott’s charge had looked every inch a chaser in the making having won a point-to-point, and he showed plenty of ability in racking up a hat-trick of wins over fences which included a defeat of Champagne Classic to claim the Neville Hotels Novice Chase.

The Doyen gelding was struggling when falling at the last in the Flogas Novices’ Chase, but he had jumped well up to that point and the shorter trip might have been against him.

He could bounce back returning to three miles having appeared to get the longer trip well at Leopardstown over Christmas and he’s not one to write off just yet although he’ll have to prove he handles this track after his flop here twelve months ago.

Battleoverdoyen could bounce back in the RSA Chase.

Battleoverdoyen could bounce back in the RSA Chase.

 

REAL STEEL (14/1, William Hill – Ryanair Chase)

Willie Mullins’ REAL STEEL showed himself last term to be a very useful novice over fences, bouncing back from a chase debut fall to win his next two outings prior to running sixth in the JLT Novices’ Chase behind Defi Du Seuil.

The Loup Breton gelding continued his good form in the wake of that run, finishing runner-up at Fairyhouse and winning at Punchestown. He has returned from a break in excellent heart, winning two of his three starts which include a thumping win over Footpad when last seen in a Grade Two contest at Thurles.

Having jumped well and travelled strongly throughout that race where he was always prominent in helping to force the pace, he stayed on well for an easy success. He likely has more to still to come over fences and it was a solid run given that he gave his stablemate 5lbs and still ran out a resounding winner.

He looks an ideal Ryanair Chase candidate and could well play a big part in the Thursday showpiece if continuing to find improvement over the larger obstacles where it wouldn’t come as a shock to see him in the mix.

CHRIS’S DREAM (33/1, Ladbrokes – Gold Cup)

Henry De Bromhead’s Mahler gelding is relatively lightly raced, but he made an immediate impact for this yard by routing his field in a Grade Three hurdle at Clonmel prior to running a solid race in the 2018 Albert Bartlett behind Kilbricken Storm.

CHRIS’S DREAM subsequently showed some decent form over fences last term, winning two of his first three starts which included the Ten Up Chase at Navan, although he disappointed on both subsequent starts at Aintree and Punchestown.

Those lesser runs were banished to history by an impressive success in the Troytown Handicap Chase where he routed a strong field by almost ten lengths and he could progress again. He looked every inch a Graded performer in that Troytown Chase romp and he is sure to improve on the run given it was his first in almost seven months.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup would certainly demand further improvement, but he’s still relatively unexposed and has the scope for improvement if pitching up in Friday’s Blue Riband.

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