Cheltenham: All clues point to Ballycasey for RSA Chase

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Willie Mullins’ string started the Festival off with a bang after watching Ruby Walsh romp to victory in the Supreme Novices Hurdle on board Vautour.

And, all the clues point to the Irish trainer scoring at least one more success on day two with Ballycasey tipped for glory in the RSA Chase at 14:05.

Mullins has won this event three times in the past, with Florida Pearl (1998), Rule Supreme (2004) and Cooldine (2009) all serving him well in the past.

This year it is the turn of Ballycasey and on current form the grey is the rightful jolly at odds of around 5/1.

Winner of five of his last six races – including the last two – Mullins’ charge approaches the race in fine fettle and running better than his nearest competitors.

Age is a huge factor for this race too, with all of the last seven winners being seven-years-old.

Ballycasey fits into this category and looks well placed to deliver a fourth RSA Chase title for his trainer.

Elsewhere, Carlingford Lough is expected to make his ability and experience count and make a race of it.

John Kiely’s eight-year-old reached the frame in five consecutive races before unseating AP McCoy last time out at Leopardstown.

An eight-year-old has taken this event just once in the last 15 years, so favouritism is with Ballycasey, but those looking to oppose Mullins’ yard could do worse Kiely’s charge.

Each way backers, meanwhile, should draw their attention to Emma Lavelle’s Le Bec, who is set to go off at odds of around 14/1.

The chestnut gelding is looking to become the first six-year-old RSA Chase winner since Florida Pearl in 1998 and with two wins from his last three starts – including the beating of Shutthefrontdoor at Cheltenham last November – connections are bullish about his chances.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.