Poquelin looks poised to pounce

FOUR impossible-to-solve handicaps, on a six-race programme, make Cheltenham this afternoon a less than enticing prospect.

Poquelin is a hopeful nap choice in the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase. The ground has come right for Paul Nicholls' seven-year-old and he is the one to beat.

He has clearly been trained with this one race in mind and has been rested since landing a competitive handicap at the track back in December.

That was a smart performance, the selection conceding Razor Royale 11lbs and handing him a beating of seven lengths.

Prior to that, Poquelin proved no match for Tranquil Sea in the Paddy Power at Cheltenham, going under by four and a half lengths.

There is a turnover of just 2lbs in the weights, so strictly on the book it is hard to envisage a reversal in the placings.

The ground, however, was very soft that afternoon and will be a lot different on this occasion.

That said, Tranquil Sea is entitled to the utmost consideration. He has been in good form in the meantime and the surface will not pose a problem.

Ruby Walsh partners Poquelin and most pundits will be of the opinion that he and Nicholls will also provide the answer to the other Grade 1 on the card, the Ladbrokes' World Hurdle with Big Buck's.

There is no doubt that, on all known form, he is the best stayer in the business right now and is going to be a particularly hard nut to crack.

But I detest odds-on shots at this meeting and propose taking a chance each-way with Alan King's Karabak.

He has three and a half lengths to find with Big Buck's on Newbury running and, on such evidence, obviously faces an uphill struggle.

But Karabak has been brought along quietly this season and was runner-up to Mikael d'Haguenet here a year ago.

Big Buck's does have a tendency to hit a flat spot in his races and, should that happen again, then Karabak is surely best positioned to take advantage.

More in this section

Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Home Delivery
logo-ie

HOME DELIVERY SERVICE

Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox