Killala Quay can defy top-weight to give Charlie Longsdon a long-overdue first Cheltenham Festival winner in the novice chase that closes Tuesday’s card.
In the three years since the race became a contest for horses rated 0-140 those at the pinnacle of the handicap have prevailed twice.
During the same timeframe those with a mark of 137 or higher have filled nine of the 12 places on offer (Killala Quay runs off 140).
Longsdon’s eight-year-old is currently available at 16/1, having been tipped up for the race at four points longer on this site a fortnight ago.
The son of Karinga Bay has plenty going for him, including festival form, favourable results against some of his adversaries and the promise of improvement for better ground than he has so far encountered during his fledgling chasing career.
Fourth behind Faugheen in last season’s Neptune Novices’ Hurdle, he was briefly outpaced three out before staying on again to threaten the places near the line.
As a result he is the joint top-rated hurdler among the 20 entrants, along with Jonjo O’Neill’s Rum And Butter on 142.
His current chase mark sits 2lbs below that, which may well be due to the fact that he has been campaigned exclusively on soft ground over fences.
Those three runs took his career tally on soft going or worse to no wins from five runs.
On good-to-soft ground or better he has struck four times in seven runs, therefore improvement on what he has already shown is expected for his 5:15 date with destiny.
Killala Quay may not yet have won over the larger obstacles, but he does have some informative runs in the ledger this term, having finished upsides of likely Cheltenham rivals Gores Island (25/1) and Irish Cavalier (12/1).
He meets the latter on 8lbs better terms despite having finished 4l ahead of him at Huntingdon in January, yet his Kempton run against the latter on Boxing Day is the more exciting form here.
The selection had Irish Cavalier 6l in arrears at Ascot in November over a trip and on ground that would likely have suited his rival more than him.
Two months later that one finished a shade over 2l third behind Generous Ransom, the 6/1 favourite for this affair, on the new course while giving him 7lbs.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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