Ruby Walsh provides his Cheltenham tips
Ruby Walsh provides his Cheltenham tips

Cheltenham Festival tips: Ruby Walsh fancies for the Cheltenham Festival

Ruby Walsh believes that King Of Kingsfield has all the necessary attributes to excel in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Trained by Gordon Elliott, King Of Kingsfield has finished in the frame on all five starts since going hurdling this season, winning his maiden at Leopardstown on St Stephen's Day in impressive fashion.

The former champion jockey turned tv pundit Walsh believes a switch to handicap company could help to show King Of Kingsfield in an even better light.

"I think the one to me off his Irish mark of 140 that sticks out is King Of Kingsfield," he said on this week’s instalment of Cheltenham Countdown, Paddy Power Media’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast .

"To me he looks made for a County Hurdle – he likes to come from off the pace, he likes to attack horses in front of him and that is the general set up you get in a County.

"So to me when I was looking through them, he was the one that really jumped out thinking ‘there’s an unexposed novice if he can run to that mark.’

“AT 12/1, I’M PRETTY CONFIDENT” | Cheltenham Countdown Ep 8 | Ruby Walsh | Handicaps | Lucky 15s

"That style of riding him now really suits when you’re looking at him in the County Hurdle and at the second last thinking ‘he’s 19th how can he win?’, yet you know when they kind of run off the bend, fan out, cross the road and when he gets to the last hurdle, he’s going to be like a knife coming through butter.

"He was the one that really stuck out to me."

King Of Kingsfield was last seen finishing third at the Dublin Racing Festival in the Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland 50th Derby Sale Novice Hurdle and Walsh believes the winner of that race, Ballyburn, will take all the beating next month.

"I would consider Ballyburn to be the ace in Willie’s pack and I think he will most likely go with Ballyburn where he thinks he needs him, be it the first race Tuesday or the first race Wednesday," he continued.

"So as the fields become clearer and the opposition becomes clearer, I’d say Ballyburn will run where Willie thinks he needs him and he’ll be hoping that he can win either or race.

"He’s the ace and then you’ll be where can the King and Queen win and kind of put the ace somewhere else."

Wet weather against Marine

Last year's brilliant Supreme winner Marine Nationale was many people's idea of the ace in the pack for this year's Arkle Novices' Chase following a flawless chasing debut but a lacklustre display at the Dublin Racing Festival blew the ante-post market apart and Walsh believes the layers may have overreacted.

"I think the Arkle is more open and I got a train last week and the amount of water lying on the land in England," he said.

"I was looking at it and thinking ‘my God, it’s so wet and the water table must be so high.’

"Who knows what will happen this week and next week with the weather – if it dries significantly, I would say Marine Nationale is overpriced myself, but if it doesn’t dry, then yes I think Quilixios has a chance."

Saint Roi has been highly tried on previous visits to the Cheltenham Festival and finished third in last year's renewal of the Arkle, 12 lengths behind his brilliant stablemate El Fabiolo.

Saint Roi could have his sights lowered this time around and holds entries in both the Grand Annual and the Plate and the nine-year-old is on Walsh's radar.

"I’m going to go with Saint Roi in the Grand Annual – I think he’s been running reasonably well in a lot of the big two-mile chases," he continued.

"I thought he would definitely have a chance in the Grand Annual so he was the one for me."

When asked to provide a Lucky 15 for the Cheltenham Festival, Walsh responded with: "Corbetts Cross in the National Hunt Chase, I’m betwixt and between here but his run in the Boyne Hurdle did it for me so Galvin in the Cross Country, Envoi Allen in the Ryanair and I’m going with Jade Du Grugy in the Mares Novice."

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