Ruby Walsh doesn’t expect an Irish horse to emerge victorious at next month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The Willie Mullins-trained Sir Des Champs, victorious in the Hennessy earlier this month, is the second-favourite for the race while First Lieutenant finished second behind Tidal Bay in the Lexus at Christmas and is available at 12/1.
Walsh, however, believes his mount, the Paul Nicholls-trained Silviniaco Conti, is a more likely winner of jump racing’s blue riband.
The Irish Examiner columnist believes Sir Des Champs hasn’t been the same horse since making a last-fence error at Punchestown last April.
The Gigginstown horse survived the scare to win that race but Walsh reckons it left a mark.
Walsh said: “He went to Punchestown and halved the last, nearly fell and he hasn’t looked the same horse jumping since. I think he’s gone a bit careful.
“They hacked along in the Hennessy and he got a chance to get into a rhythm. I think when they come out in the Gold Cup, he won’t be in that comfort zone.”
Assessing First Lieutenant, Walsh said: “He’s missing something. The Lexus presented itself to him, he got back past Flemenstar yet he folded up. The race was there for him. I think the Irish horses have to improve a good bit.”
Silviniaco Conti is currently the third favourite for the Gold Cup and Walsh believes he has the credentials to win the race.
“I like him, I really like him. I thought he won well at Wetherby [in the Charlie Hall]. I thought he was very good in Haydock [in the Betfair Chase].
“People say, ‘He got first run on Long Run and he needed the run and you’d had a run’. It’s the same with anything. If you want to pick holes in something you can. The form is there if you want to go and look at it.
“He’s mature, he’s only seven, he’s a brilliant jumper, he’s a good traveller, he’ll stay, I think he has everything.”
Bobs Worth is the current favourite for the Gold Cup but Walsh feels he too has his flaws.
Walsh said: “Bobs Worth definitely lacks a gear even though he stays.”
Don't forget you can also read Ruby's column and top tips every week, first and only in Saturday's Irish Examiner - part of our Saturday bumper sport and weekend package.
If you miss that then catch up HERE with what he had to say.
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