Poquelin finished second behind Albertas Run in the Ryanair Chase at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, but 12 months on he seems the one to beat.
Trainer Paul Nicholls believes the horse is the perfect candidate to end his Ryanair Chase hoodoo, with Poquelin the 9/4 favourite in the Cheltenham betting.
Poquelin has course form as he is a four-time winner at Cheltenham, while he has also taken a liking to the New Course, which he showed when conceding weight to a high-class field to win the Vote AP Gold Cup in December.
Nicholls also believes that the horse is better suited to the 2m5f trip this season, while the fact he is now an eight-year-old means that he should be stronger than last year.
With rain not expected at Cheltenham until Thursday evening, which could have an impact on Friday’s racing, the current drying ground is something else that is in Poquelin’s favour.
Poquelin’s main challenge is likely to come from 7/2 chance Kalahari King, who has been placed at previous Festivals in the Arkle Chase and Champion Chase.
There is the belief that the horse will improve from a step up in trip to 2m5f, particularly as he has been running on well in the closing stages of his latest two starts, after being left too much to do.
However, the fact that he has never won at Cheltenham is a cause for concern, bearing in mind that all of the six ever winners of the race had headed to the Festival with a course victory already under their belts.
In terms of the each-way candidates, Voy Por Ustedes clearly has the class to win the Ryanair Chase and despite being off the course for 11 months, he is sure to give a good account of himself at 12/1 in the Cheltenham betting on what will be his first start for new trainer Nicky Henderson.
A £20 stake on Alberta’s Run winning the Ryanair Chase would return £120. New customers can sign up here to take advantage of free bets totalling up to £60.