Will Black Hercules Win The Cheltenham National Hunt Chase
March 7 - One of the biggest days in the horse racing calendar is just around the corner and the first day will see the National Hunt Chase, the longest and most frequently run race at the Cheltenham festival. With records set to be smashed for the highest attendance yet, more eyes than ever are set to watch favourite Black Hercules - trained by Willie Mullins - race to National Hunt victory.
Despite his favourite tag, Mullins is considering pulling Black Hercules from the race and instead focussing on the JLT Novice's Chase as a more viable target.
This stems from the fact on his last run before Cheltenham he suffered a final fence fall at Navan which has left Mulllins expressing doubt at the ability of Black Hercules to take on the gruelling 4m trip of the National Hunt Chase. The fall has not changed the outlook though, and if he does race he will be a leading candidate.
Hosting a pre-Cheltenham press day Mullins admitted the decision looming on Black Hercules was 'occupying my mind probably most of all' and that given how keen he was at Navan getting four miles out of him would be 'a lot more difficult', however with Coral Bookmakers offering money back for non-runners then there is still no risk from a punters perspective.
Elsewhere, the two joint-second favourites are Minello Rocco and Roi Des Francs, with the latter another trained by Willie Mullins. Minello Rocco is trained by Jonjo O?Neill, who will be seeking his fifth winner of the race since 2002. Further down, we have Pont Alexandre who we spoke about before as a 10/1 shot, has now come down to 6/1 as the race approaches, again another horse trained by Mullins who will be hopeful he can get a winner on the first day.
With places offered on the top three, many punters will look for value in the each way bet. Rule the World, trained by Mouse Morris, looked a good each-way bet at 10/1 with Coral. However, he performed badly on his last race before the festival, and thanks to the latest Cheltenham betting odds, no longer looks like a prime candidate. Coming fourth in the Naas Directors Plate Novice Chase, despite starting as second favourite. Yet he has shown a lot of talent in many of his previous races, and despite not winning any races has a lot of second place finishes to his name.
With a strong Irish contingent making up the race, we have another Mullins horse, Measureofmydreams at 14/1 who will arrive at the festival on the back of two wins, the latest in Navan which included Shantou Flyer, another who will be in the National Chase, at 20/1 but unfortunately he pulled up in that race. And for the wishful thinkers out there, why not have a look at An Poc Ar Buile who will start the National Hunt Chase at a massive 150/1.
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