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Monday, 21 January, 2019

Carter McKay should run big race in the Champion Bumper

Ireland's champion trainer with the lowdown on his runners at Cheltenham

Willie Mullins has a strong team for the third day of the festival
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Bacardys, Bon Papa, Kemboy, Livelaughlove (1.30)

I thought Bacardys was very good winning the Deloitte at Leopardstown last month and the way he won over 2m2f that day suggested the extra three furlongs here shouldn't pose a problem. He ran a blinder when a close third in the bumper at the meeting a year ago and we think he has improved since his Leopardstown win.

Bon Papa is a horse we think has improved in recent weeks and we're expecting him to run a big race. Kemboy didn't jump that well when second to Let's Dance at Leopardstown in January. He'll be going a bit further here and that might see his jumping improve, while we decided to run Livelovelaugh in this race rather than wait for the Albert Bartlett later in the week. We thought that this trip with a good pace might suit him better.

Bellshill (2.10)

His performance at Leopardstown on his most recent start plus his schooling fall at the same track would make him hard to fancy, but Ruby has been riding him and schooling him at home and he was more than happy that I declare him for this race, and that is encouraging.

Allblak Des Places, Bravissimo, Sure Reef, Thomas Hobson, Tin Soldier (2.50)

Paul Townend was keen to ride Allblak Des Places, whose homework is a good bit better than his recent form, and we're going to change tactics on Bravissimo, who didn't get the run of the race in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle last time.

Sure Reef has had his problems and we've been trying to get him back to the sort of form he showed a few seasons back when he won a Grade 2 over 2m4f at Leopardstown. He ran okay at Fairyhouse last time and we're hoping he can improve on that effort. If he does that, he could very well finish in the money.

Thomas Hobson was disappointing at Navan last time. However, he was beaten only four lengths in the Coral Hurdle at Leopardstown in January and if he can find that sort of form he will have an outside chance.

Tin Soldier is a horse who hasn't been impressive but he keeps pulling it out and we think there is plenty more in his locker. His wins have been on heavy and soft, but there should be enough cut in the ground for him and for his stamina to come into play.

 Douvan (3.30)

He's very much a star in our eyes and we're hoping he will go out and show just how good he is. He's a very short-priced favourite and on form he's entitled to be, but you can never take anything for granted and hopefully he will put in a clear round and justify his big reputation. He has excelled at the festival in the past, winning the Supreme Novices' in 2015 and the Arkle a year ago and has never been beaten in nine starts over fences. His preparation has gone very well since his win in the Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown last month and he's in super form. We're very happy, it's up to him now and we're all looking forward to the race.

Alelchi Inois (4.15)

He never got into contention on his cross-country debut over the course in January, but that experience should have done him good. He has good form to his credit over regular fences and we think, and hope, he can improve a good bit on his previous run over the course.

Carter McKay, Next Destination (5.30)

Carter McKay has won both his starts and Patrick, who has won the race on two occasions, on Cousin Vinny and Champagne Fever, rides.

Although it was only a four-runner race at Naas, I thought Carter McKay won really well and if re-produces that sort of form then he should run a big race.

Ruby rides Next Destination, who won at Fairyhouse on his only start. He's been doing some very nice work at home and it will be no surprise to see him bang there at the finish.

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We're very happy, it's up to him now and we're all looking forward to the race. Hopefully he will justify his big reputation

Key data

W P Mullins
E.W. Terms
Sky bet