Cheltenham contenders perform well

A host of Cheltenham Festival contenders impressed on Sunday with the best of the action taking place at Leopardstown in Ireland.

After a spate of injuries which has seen some of his superstars ruled out, Willie Mullins will have been very happy with his performers in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle as he came home first and second with Bacardys and Bunk Off Early.

Both will now be heading to Cheltenham in good spirits with Bacardys  10/1 for the Albert Bartlett and Bunk Off Early rated at 12/1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – having been as large as 25/1 last week.

“I’d imagine the Albert Bartlett would be the one for him, but I have two or three others for the race so we’ll see,” Mullins said of Bacardys.

He added: “I’m delighted with Bunk Off Early. He jumped well and he’ll improve hugely for jumping at that speed, as that was only his second run over hurdles.”

The Irish Gold Cup was won by Jessica Harrington with Sizing John, whose impressive run sees him cut to 12/1 for the Cheltenham version.

Mega Fortune is now as short as 7/1 for the Triumph Hurdle after he won the Spring Juvenile Hurdle in fine style for Gordon Elliott.

Arguably the most impressive display of the day came from Noel Meade’s grey Disko – who lead from the front to take the Flogas Novice Chase – and he is now 12/1 for the JLT Novices and 8/1 for the RSA Chase.

Over in England there was some high quality displays at Exeter with Finian’s Oscar only cementing his place at the head of the betting for the Neptune at Cheltenham after a comfortable win in the 188Bet Novices Hurdle.

His trainer Colin Tizzard insists that he does not know which race he will be entering him in at Prestbury Park next month.

“That hasn’t told us anything and I’m still in the dark as to whether he will run in the Neptune or the Supreme. I really don’t know which one,” he said.

“We will talk about it in the next two weeks. All we know is that was only his third hurdle race and it shows his well-being, nothing more. He’s a very relaxed horse, as we saw today, but we haven’t really gained anything.

“Everyone was in today’s race at the five-day stage, but they backed off.”

Tea For Two landed the Graduation Chase at Exeter but remains 50/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup


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