Golantilla capable of landing bumper

Barry Connell’s €375,000 purchase returns after year off for festival trial

A trio of Grade Two races at Naas tomorrow are ostensibly the last significant trials for Cheltenham but it's the concluding bumper that has the real festival pedigree and it's the likely favourite for that race, Golantilla, who looks the star attraction.

Barry Connell's €375,000 purchase is in line to pull off a rare feat and run twice in in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, a race in which he was third last year to Briar Hill, and for which he is as low as 8 to 1 in some ante-post lists this time.

Festival indicator
Golantilla hasn't run in a year but lines up against five other winners tomorrow when he will be ridden by top amateur Robbie McNamara in a race

that has thrown up subsequent Cheltenham bumper winners Hairy Molly (2006), Pizarro (2002) and a certain Rite Of Passage who won this in 2009 before going on to be placed behind Dunguib at the festival.


Willlie Mullins has won this race twice in the last three years with Outlander and the ill-fated Samain and supplies course winner Killultagh Vic this time. But Golantilla should be hard to beat.

"He is fit and well and he has plenty done," said Tony Martin yesterday. "He has had a couple of racecourse gallops and I am happy with him . . . he should give a good account of himself."

In contrast the three graded races look ripe for plucking by the champion trainer.

Both the steeplechase events have been reduced to three-runner affairs and the Woodlands Park Nas na Riogh Chase looks like a €40,000 piece of exercise for Mozoltov.

As low as 16 to 1 for the JLT Novice Chase at Cheltenham, his nearest rival on ratings is the Gigginstown No 2 Folsom Blue who is dropping back a mile in trip from winning a Grand National Trial. Mozoltov has over a stone in hand at what is possibly his best trip.

There appears to be little doubt that two miles on testing ground is Twinlight's ideal scenario. And he gets it in the Paddy Power Chase.

Minimum trip specialist
Mullins sent Twinlight to Kempton a month ago where he

was third to Captain Chris over two-and-a-half miles. But the horse is a six-time winner at the minimum trip, or just over it, and has put one of today's opponents, last year's winner Days Hotel, in his shadow this season.

Tony McCoy has picked Mullins's City Slicker over the County Hurdle entered novice Minella Foru from JP McManus's pair in the featured novice hurdle. City Slicker can be a very free horse though which won't help him in testing conditions and he has to concede a chunk of weight to stable companion, Vicky de L'Oasis. Mullins won this with Annie Power last year.

McCoy should oblige in the opener with Shield.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column