Conflated runs in the Ryanair Chase on Thursday
Conflated’s connections have all but ruled out a Cheltenham Gold Cup for the Irish Gold Cup winner. He is among 14 remaining entries in the Ryanair Chase after the latest declaration stage for Cheltenham’s Thursday card. Trainer Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown owner Eddie O’Leary have confirmed that Davy Russell will ride, opening up the possibility of a late jockey switch in Friday’s Gold Cup. Jack Kennedy rode Minella Indo to victory last year but was thought likely to be claimed by Gigginstown. Robbie Power stepped in to ride the Gold Cup winner last time out.
Ryanair Chase field expected to cut up at final declaration stage
Part of the thinking behind running Conflated in the shorter Ryanair Chase is the likelihood that the field may cut up. Willie Mullins has six of the remaining 14 runners including odds-on favourite Allaho. Of the remainder, Envoi Allen has also been declared for the Champion Chase and Mister Fisher would not run if the going is too testing. Colin Tizzard has booked Brendan Powell to ride Eldorado Allen who won the Denman Chase at Newbury last time out. Harry Skelton will partner Shan Blue for his brother Dan.
There were no significant defections from the Stayers’ Hurdle with all of the fancied runners standing their ground. The race will feature the last three winners; Paisley Park, Lisnagar Oscar and Flooring Porter. Jonjo O’Neill Jnr will ride Champ for Nicky Henderson and Tom O’Brien will be aboard Thyme Hill for Philip Hobbs. Willie Mullins has two remaining entries in former Supreme Hurdle winner Klassical Dram and two-time Champion Hurdle runner-up Melon.
The clash of the two leading Irish novice chasers is still on with Bob Olinger and Galopin Des Champs both declared for the opening Turners Novices’ Chase. The going is now officially soft at Cheltenham after recent rain and that is likely to rule out a late switch to the three-mile Brown Advisory Chase for Galopin Des Champs. Mullins has no fewer than 9 of the remaining 16 declared for the Turners so this is another race that is likely to cut up quite badly at the final declaration stage.
Ballyandy to be ridden by 10lbs claimer in Pertemps Final
Eleven-year-old Ballyandy will attempt to turn back the clock in the Pertemps Final on Thursday. He won the Champion Bumper in 2016. He has also finished fourth in the 2017 Supreme and third in the 2019 Coral Cup. 10lbs claimer Finn Lambert has ridden the veteran to recent victories at Fakenham and Chepstow and Nigel Twiston-Davies has confirmed that he keeps the ride. Top weight Sire Du Berlais is also likely to be ridden by a claimer to boost his chances of a record-equally third win in the race.
Fergal O’Brien has pencilled in Paddy Brennan to ride Imperial Alcazar for the Paddy Power Plate for which he is 8-1 second favourite. Celebre D’Allen remains a solid 6-1 market leader with Alan King’s The Glancing Queen and The Shunter also prominent in the betting. Mullins has kept his options open for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle with 8 of the remaining 35 entries. The pick of them appear to be Dinoblue and Brandy Love who are currently the top two in the betting.
Frontal Assault heads a list of thirty horses still in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup which completes Thursday’s action. Others to catch the eye include Ain’t That A Shame, Smoking Gun and School Boy Hours.