Cheltenham Festival: The Ultimate Guide - 2021-03-05


‘Monkfish is one of the most exciting staying novice chasers we have seen for some time’


1. Monkfish 2. Latest Exhibition 3. Next Destination Leg two of the Grade 1 novice chase ante-post treble and don’t worry about tearing up your slip here, I can’t see who’s going to beat Monkfish. Last year’s Albert Bartlett winner was very impressive over an inadequate 2m5½f last time at Leopardstown, proving he has the natural pace to compete on Cheltenham’s speedier Old course. Latest Exhibition will be second to his old foe again and Next Destination should run well too. 1. Monkfish 2. Eklat De Rire 3. If The Cap Fits Last season’s Albert Bartlett winner Monkfish has looked every bit as good over the bigger obstacles for top festival trainer Willie Mullins and is a solid favourite for this race. An easy 11-length winner when last seen in the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown at the Dublin Racing Festival last month, the son of Stowaway could be the Irish banker of the week and again prove a real thorn in the side of the bookmakers. 1. Monkish 2. Next Destination 3. Eklat De Rire It’s hard to find any flaws in Monkfish. Last season’s Albert Bartlett winner has been faultless in three novice chase victories, including at the top level at Leopardstown in December and again last month. He recorded an RPR of 170 in the Flogas Novice Chase – a standout figure among the leading contenders for this event. Next Destination has plenty of classy form and will be suited by this test of stamina at a galloping track, while Eklat De Rire is the most unexposed of the market principals. 1. The Big Breakaway 2. Monkfish 3. Next Destination At the likely prices it is worth going with The Big Breakaway. He was a creditable fourth over hurdles at last year’s festival, despite the Colin Tizzard yard having a disappointing meeting, and he held every chance until making a bad mistake at the final fence in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton in December. The stiffer track at Cheltenham will be a plus and he is taken to beat leading Irish contender Monkfish. 1. Eklat De Rire 2. Monkfish 3. The Big Breakaway Monkfish is one of the most exciting staying novice chasers we have seen for some time and could easily prove miles better than this opposition. That said, this race has more depth than one might think and it could be worth taking him on with Eklat De Rire, who has gone quietly about his business this season. He’s a fantastic jumper who gets on with things from the front and is a cracking each-way bet. Don’t rule out The Big Breakaway either. He needs to improve his jumping but has bags of talent. 1. Monkfish 2. Latest Exhibition 3. Eklat De Rire Monkfish looks one of the bankers of the festival and extended his excellent record when an imperious winner at the Dublin Racing Festival. Last year’s Albert Bartlett winner looks ideal for next year’s Gold Cup and can once again get the better of regular rival Latest Exhibition, while the inexperienced Eklat De Rire promises to enjoy this particular test.



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