A multitude of Cheltenham Festival clues have emerged from across the Irish Sea in the last fortnight, as a host of horses have propelled into the limelight with impressive victories and will be major factors come the Prestbury Park extravaganza in March. Our Jumping Over The Irish Sea section looks at all the latest stories in the Emerald Isle and picks out those who are premier festival players come the spring.
Cossack Guns Down Falling Fever In Kinloch Brae
Don Cossack launched to the head of the betting for the Ryanair Chase after he got the better of the dual Cheltenham Festival winner Champagne Fever in incident-packed renewal of the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles. The latter was heavily backed before the off and Ruby Walsh elected to send Champagne Fever out in front as the Willie Mullins-trained grey aimed to bounce back to winning ways after struggling in the King George VI Chase. Meanwhile, Bryan Cooper stalked his main rival for most of the event as he was aiming to land another win after starring in the John Durkan Memorial Chase last time out and turning for home he had the leader in his sights. As they came upsides each other it was Champagne Fever who produced a poor jump and sent the aforementioned Walsh to the floor and Don Cossack was able to stride to victory on his own. Bookmakers were impressed by the progressive winner and he is now a 5/1 shot for the Ryanair Chase, whilst Champagne Fever could well drop back to two miles next time out and he is an interesting addition to a fascinating Champion Chase market.
Vautour JLT Bound After Returning To Winning Ways
Vautour blotted his copybook and lost his unblemished record when beaten convincingly in the Racing Post Novice Chase over the festive period, but last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle returned to winning ways last weekend with a facile win in the Grade 2 Killiney Novice Chase at Leopardstown. It emerged afterwards that owner Rich Ricci is set to send the classy six-year-old to the JLT Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and not set up a mouth-watering clash with stablemate Un De Sceaux in the Arkle. Ruby Walsh was ecstatic with the way Vautour jumped in his review of the Co. Carlow inmate's performance in the Killiney and he expects a lot more to come for the top class performer as the season progresses. William Hill and Ladbrokes are now a best-priced 7/2 for Vautour to land the JLT on the third day of the festival.
Exciting Douvan Demolishes Rivals In Moscow Flyer
Douvan had already been touted as a potential superstar of the National Hunt arena prior to his three-and-a-quarter length victory in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle, but the manner in which the exciting five-year-old just eased clear of a decent field in that Grade 2 suggests that the Willie Mullins production line could well have produced another hurdling sensation. Never off the bridle, he was merely eased to the front and won with the minimum fuss and bookmakers were quick to slash him to a best-priced 9/4 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and he will be a tough nut to crack in the festival curtain-raiser if producing another enthralling display.
Foxrock And Katie T Star In Competitive Leopardstown Events
Dessie Hughes's Foxrock was a fine five-length winner of the Boylesports Handicap Chase at Leopardstown and the staying chaser could well shape into a real Grand National contender come April, as he showed like there's a lot more to come over fences. Only 30 minutes later there was another top notch handicap performance as Katie T landed the tough Boylesports Handicap Hurdle by three lengths, and she could be a mare to stay on the right side of as she is another that looks to be on the way up and was one of the star performers at a stellar meeting last weekend.
Fly And Jezki Set For Epic Irish Champion Battle
Whilst there have been an array of exciting displays in Ireland we are in store for a sparkling weekend of action across the Irish Sea as Hurricane Fly and Jezki do battle for the seventh time in their career in the Irish Champion Hurdle. The former has dominated the duels this season landing victory in the Morgiana and Ryanair Hurdles, respectively, but Jezki showed when bounding to glory in the Champion Hurdle that on his day he is a crack hurdler and it's all set for a sensational contest. Also on the card, some vital Cheltenham Festival Arkle clues will be on offer as current ante-post favourite Un De Sceaux takes on the exciting triumvirate of Gilgamboa, Clarcam and Apache Stronghold in the Grade One Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown.