16.00 Cheltenham – Ballyhaunis to take Coral Cup back to Ireland

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Considering they’ve supplied just 20 per cent of the runners in this Coral Cup handicap, for the Irish to have over a third of the winners in this race is pretty impressive.

Willie Mullins supplies the only two Irish horses in this 26-runner field and carries the hopes of a nation on his shoulders, but after Divers returned victorious for the County Carlow stable the trainer is bang in form.

Mullins will saddle 5/1 favourite Call The Police and with Tuesday’s three-time winner Ruby Walsh on board, he’s sure to attract plenty of interest.

But as an eight-year-old the stats are really against him with just one winner over eight from 92 contenders that have taken part in this race, and preference is for Mullins’ Ballyhaunis who will have the more than capable Paul Townend on board.

At 10/1 to win the Coral Cup Ballyhaunis is well weighted at 10st 7lb, has won twice this season including in a big field at Listowel, and having not run since January 23rd, comes into the race fresh.

9 of the last 15 runners have entered the race fresh and at 10/1, Ballyhaunis offers heaps of each-way value.

However there are two strong candidates at the top of the market in Aegean Dawn and For Non Stop who are both available at 6/1.

Both enter the race fresh – Aegean Dawn last ran 118 days ago and For Non Stop ran 78 days ago – both have a win to their name this season – Aegean Dawn is unbeaten while For Non Stop won at Chepstow in October – and both are rated under 147 – no winners officially rated 148+ in 17 attempts.

For Non Stop has 8lbs on Aegean Dawn – was raised 26lbs by the handicapper – so looks the better bet at 6/1, but we’re siding with the Irish Challenge and Ballyhaunis can take the Coral Cup back to County Carlow.

A £20 stake on Ballyhaunis winning the Coral Cup would return £220. New customers can sign up here for a free bet worth up to £60.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.