Cheltenham Tips: Horses that could make you a fortune at Cheltenham 2019
The wait is over and after a long, dry winter, the Irish contingent remains healthy for the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. We've run the rule over the week-long festival to pick out Irish horses worth a punt at Prestbury Park.
DELTA WORK (15/8) - RSA Chase (Wednesday, March 13)
This horse is perhaps the toughest in training in Ireland at the moment and has been one of the most impressive performers throughout the winter. His most noteworthy performance came at Fairyhouse in December when he deservedly beat the highly thought of Le Richebourg. Le Richebourg had been the longtime favourite for the Arkle before an injury setback ruled him out for the season so that Fairyhouse form is more than rock solid. The Gordon Elliott-trained Delta Work is unbeaten in three starts since finishing as runner-up to Next Destination at last year's Punchestown Festival, beating Mortal by eight lengths on his most recent outing. Crucially, he has Cheltenham form in the book from last year when he beat the fancied Glenloe in the Pertemps final. He showed his battling qualities in spades that day, a trait often required to win an RSA.
MONALEE (5/1) - Ryanair Chase (Thursday, March 14)
Waterford trainer Henry de Bromhead has a small but select contingent heading over the Irish Sea this year and this horse could be the one to carry him to the winner's enclosure. Footpad will be tough to beat if he lines up here but if not, the 2019 Ryanair could be the most open race of the festival. Frodon and Politologue are home contenders worth noting but Monalee is still improving and has some excellent form to his name, including at Cheltenham. He was unfortunate to run into Presenting Percy, the ante-post favourite for the 2019 Gold Cup, in last year's RSA, but he stormed up the hill behind Pat Kelly's star to finish clear of the chasing pack in second place. He's also accounted for another Gold Cup contender, Kemboy, this season, confirming his commanding and undeniable Ryanair credentials.
PRESENTING PERCY (7/2) - Gold Cup (Friday, March 15)
The most talked about horse on either side of the Irish Sea this year, despite only running once in a pipe-opener over hurdles at Gowran in January. The lack of a run over fences this season is a worry for some, but by all accounts, Presenting Percy has been working out of his skin at home. We're depending on last year's form, especially his win in the RSA Chase, a performance described by many as an absolute showstopper. The Gold Cup was on the lips of everyone immediately after that race and it's been on the radar all year for the imposing eight-year-old. He won that RSA by seven lengths but, if pushed, probably could have gone on by more. Connections have been waiting for soft ground throughout the unusually dry winter period and with a number of false dawns in entries and withdrawals, tongues have been wagging for his return. With rain forecast all week at Cheltenham, that return is likely to come on Friday for the centrepiece. Reigning champion Native River, tipped by this column last year, is back and will be a stubborn incumbent to dislodge, but as I said about Presenting Percy last year, the hype is real.