Voix Du Reve can take advantage of rare top-flight opportunity
Rachel Blackmore targets first domestic Grade One success on Honeysuckle
Noel Fehily onboard Eglantine Du Seuil (left) clears the last ahead of Gavin Sheehan onboard Indefatigable to win the National Hunt Breeders Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival. Photograph: Inpho
Al Boum Photo provided the ultimate reputational boost to Easter Sunday’s Fairyhouse feature by winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month and that sets a high bar for this weekend’s handful of runners.
Just five line up for the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase, a prestigious contest won in the past by legendary names such as Arkle and Captain Christy.
Not many would have confidently predicted the 2018 winner Al Boum Photo would progress to Blue Riband glory a year later so writing off this latest renewal in terms of star quality could be premature.
However with the Arkle hero Duc Des Genievres among those skipping out, there might be a rare Grade One opportunity here for one of them.
Both of Willie Mullins’s runners, Real Steel and Voix Du Reve, ran in Cheltenham’s JLT where the latter unseated Ruby Walsh three out. The partnership is maintained here and with ground conditions drying all the time Voix Du Reve could hold a decisive advantage.
Walsh is on the shock 50-1 Cheltenham winner Eglantine Du Seuil in Sunday’s other Grade One, the Irish Stallion Farms Novice Hurdle, although much of this race could centre around Honeysuckle.
A setback ruled Henry De Bromhead’s unbeaten mare out of Cheltenham where her previous form was advertised by Tintangle.
That was just the latest piece of evidence that Honeysuckle is a very smart novice indeed and if back to her best she should prove hard to beat over what may be an ideal trip.
Victory would be a first Grade One success in Ireland for Rachael Blackmore but if Honeysuckle isn’t at her best Salsaretta could take advantage back at this two and a half mile trip.
Ireland’s Easter flat action is confined to Cork on Saturday where the impressive Lincoln winner Karawaan will be fancied to follow up under a 10lb penalty.
His first start for Ger Lyons was a major step up on what he’d achieved previously and it would be no surprise if the son of Sea The Stars is still ahead of the ratings.