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Force is with Mullins and Hurricane
HURRICANE Fly and Quevega got Willie Mullins off to a flyer on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival last year, and that duo can repeat the trick back at Prestbury Park.
Mullins has a handful of chances at the highlight of the jumps calendar, but a second win for Hurricane Fly in the Stan James Champion Hurdle would surely be top of his wish list.
A brilliant winner 12 months ago from Peddlers Cross, Ruby Walsh felt he pulled too hard that day but with Overturn guaranteed to go off lickity split, there should be no danger of that this time.
Mullins did have a difficult first half of the season with him and he was not pleasing the handler, but he showed enough to reappear in the Irish Champion Hurdle where he laughed at quality yardsticks such as Thousand Stars and Oscars Well.
Binocular bounced back to his best at Wincanton last time out but there is always a chance he could throw in a shocker, although his course form is excellent.
Rock On Ruby is still an each-way price but for those who like value, Overturn could outrun his huge odds, as long as the watered ground does not affect him too much.
Quevega should then register a landmark of her own with victory in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.
She has farmed this event for the last three years and there does not seem to be a horse in there capable of scuppering her fourth successive win.
Sprinter Sacre is the most likely winner of the Racing Post Arkle.
Nicky Henderson’s ‘aeroplane’ has broken three track records this season and simply devours the challenge of fences.
His critics will say he failed to come up the hill in the Supreme last season but in truth he was probably in front too soon, so well was he travelling turning into the straight.
Al Ferof has his followers after staying on strongly to beat the favourite 12 months ago but his price looks very skinny now.
If it is a decent-priced winner you are looking for to set you up for the rest of the week that should come in the opening William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle where it is 5-1 the field.
Alan King’s Montbazon has been highly rated for a couple of years and went close in the Aintree bumper last year when Robert Thornton perhaps over-did the waiting tactics against Steps To Freedom.
He suffered with sore shins earlier this season which prevented him from showing his best form until his last start at Newbury.
Vulcanite and Colour Squadron lined up against him and Montbazon looked in control before the latter fell.
King has reported that he has thrived since then but he is another that could have done with the race being later in the week as he wants rattling good ground.
The JLT Specialty Chase can go the way of Donald McCain's Our Mick.
Novices have a good record in this race and while Our Mick is only six, he has plenty of experience over fences.
Beaten only three lengths by For Non Stop in the rearranged Scilly Isles at Newbury, he looked for all the world that day that he would relish a step up to three miles.
All ground comes alike to him and he should be bang on the premises.
Uncle Junior can defy top weight in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase.
Mullins fields the first two in the betting and while Scotsirish has done well since switched to this sphere, there has to be a stamina doubt in a stronger-run race.
Uncle Junior became the first horse to win over this unique course at the first time of asking in 12 years and looks a natural.
The Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase looks tailor made for the King-trained Bless The Wings.
A course and distance winner in January, he routed the opposition that day where his jumping was his major asset.
Up 8lb, that might not be enough to stop his progression.