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Festival Challenge Cup

16:10 Cheltenham - Festival Challenge Cup

Willie Mullins will be hoping it’s third time lucky for Billaway here. The Well Chosen gelding has finished runner-up in this contest for the past two seasons but the likely soft ground and addition of cheekpieces may eke out further improvement and he’s definitely the one to beat. It’d be an unbelievable result if Bob And Co could give enthusiastic owner/jockey David Maxwell a Cheltenham win. The classy type beat Billaway by a nose at Punchestown last April but was beaten by twice since.

Cousin Pascal won the Foxhunters at Aintree in April and beat Bob And Co at Haydock last month. Since moving to Britain he’s got form figures of “21121” which would suggest he’s improving but has yet to run at Prestbury Park so has to prove he handles the course.

Winged Leader has won his last five starts and put in a career-best effort to beat Billaway at Thurles. David Christie’s charge is only an eight-year-old, so there’s every reason to believe he’s improving and I think he can win under leading amateur Barry O’Neill.

The previous winner It Came To Pass is now a 12-year-old and even though he won a point-to-point in January but was beaten when falling later that month. This will have been the plan but he may struggle to regain his crown.

written by Peter Keogh


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