Gitane Du Berlais could spoil the McCoy party at Fairyhouse
Willie Mullins’s mare is favourite for Ryanair Gold Cup where McCoy rides Gilgamboa
Tony McCoy is on the favourite Cantlow in Monday’s Irish Grand National but could be upstaged by Ruby Walsh in Sunday’s main event. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
So much of Fairyhouse’s 2015 Easter festival is going to be defined by Tony McCoy’s last appearances in Ireland that Gilgamboa would be a neat fit as a winner of the inaugural Ryanair Gold Cup. However, Gitane Du Berlais can mess up the storyline.
It being McCoy of course there’s always a link: the legendary jockey, who rides the gambled-on favourite Cantlow in Monday’s Irish Grand National, won the Sunday highlight a decade ago on the last mare to win, Like-A-Butterfly, when the race was known as the Powers Gold Cup.
Gitane Du Berlais is the sole mare in this year’s event and for an in-form, 150-rated, Grade One performer, she gets an awful lot of weight from eight opponents. It is nevertheless a competitive race overall which hardly dilutes disappointment at the non-appearance of the brilliant Cheltenham winner, Vautour.
First ever winWillie Mullins
Valseur Lido is joined by Azorian as Michael O’Leary tries to win his own prize money and on testing ground Gilgamboa is an intriguing contender considering how original plans to wind up his season have been shelved.
McCoy has two other rides for JP McManus at Fairyhouse on Sunday, but not in the Grade One Irish Stallion Farms where Walsh dons the Gigginstown colours in Bryan Cooper’s absence on board Petite Parisienne.
As one of a pair of four-year-olds in the race, Petite Parisienne gets a substantial pull at the weights and a step up to 2½ miles might be a plus to her chances. She appeared to pay the price in the closing stages for being prominent for much of the Triumph Hurdle but more restraint can pay off here.
The former top-flight bumper performer had the thankless task of chasing home Douvan at Cheltenham in the Supreme while very much giving the impression he would step up from that outing afterwards.
He gets a valuable weight concession from his stable companion Outlander who failed to fire in the Neptune and Shaneshill is already a proven operator at 2½ miles. He should be hard to beat.
The presence of the Pearl Bloodstock colours on the Mullins bumper contender will be focused on, although representative’s for Qatar’s Sheikh Fahad al-Thani have described the link up as “just a bit of fun”.
On the sponsorship day that’s in it though, maybe the point-to-point winner Death Duty will be a tough nut to crack.