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Ivanovich Gorbatov has Spring Juvenile Hurdle in his step ahead of Festival

David Metcalf | February 5, 2016

Besides the Irish Gold Cup, there are three cracking Grade 1 contests at Leopardstown in which leading contenders for the Cheltenham Festival have their final prep run.

Ivanovich Gorbatov set to Triumph

Proceedings get underway with the Spring Juvenile Hurdle (12.55), and Ivanovich Gorbatov can make it two out of two over the obstacles to cement his position at the head of the betting for the Triumph Hurdle.

The Aidan O’Brien trained four-year-old was a smart performer on the flat and created a huge impression when scoring on hurdles debut over course and distance.

Ivanovich_Gorbatov

Ivan Gorbatov travelled powerfully throughout, and after challenging on the bit approaching the last only had to be pushed out to easily beat Let’s Dance by 2 1/4 lengths.

The JP McManus owned gelding scored with tons in hand, and looks a potential superstar in the making.

Ivan Gorbatov is currently 5/2 favourite with Coral for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on Friday, March 18th, and I fully expect him to confirm the form with Let’s Dance and pass this test with flying colours.

Tombstone can deliver in Deloitte

The Deloitte Novice Hurdle (13.55) features a mouthwatering clash between Bellshill and Tombstone, and the latter is taken to come out on top.

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Trained by Gordon Elliott, the six-year-old won two of his three starts in bumpers and looked an exciting prospect when scoring on debut over hurdles at Fairyhouse.

Tombstone cruised clear to easily beat the highly regarded Pyleonthepressure by five lengths, and it was a performance which oozed class.

This gelding then lost little in defeat last time out when stepped up into Grade 1 company and going down by just 3/4 of a length to Long Dong over course and distance.

Tombstone didn’t get the clearest of runs, and didn’t well to finish so close given how the race panned out.

He holds entries in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at next month’s Cheltenham Festival, for which is is currently 10/1 and 16/1 respectively, and those odds will tumble if Tombstone takes the scalp of his rival.

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Bellshill hails from all conquering Willie Mullins stable, and completed a hat-trick over the obstacles when landing the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle at Naas last month.

The six-year-old beat 66/1 outsider Last Encounter by five lengths, but was more workmanlike than impressive in getting the better of a rival rated 23lb his inferior.

I feel the 2m 2f trip is on the short side for Bellshill, who is currently 3/1 second-favourite with Coral for the Neptune, and fancy Tombstone to outpace him on this occasion.

Outlander can blow away Flogas rivals

In the 2m 5f Flogas Novice Chase (14.30), Outlander can complete the hat-trick. The Willie Mullins trained gelding was a very smart hurdler, and has looked just as good in winning his two starts over fences.

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After getting the better of the highly thought of Free Expression over 2m 4f at Punchestown, Outlander coped well with the drop back in trip when staying on strongly to beat Avant Tout over 2m 1f at Limerick.

The eight-year-old is a really tough sort who only just does enough to get the job done, and it’s hard to know just how good he could be.

One thing for sure is that Outlander won’t shirk the issue if the race turns into a battle, and he looks the type who is open to plenty more progress.

Outlander holds four entries at the Cheltenham Festival – in the Arkle Challenge Trophy (25/1), the National Hunt Chase (12/1), RSA Chase (16/1) and JLT Novices’ Chase (20/1) – and will be a big player in whichever assignment he takes up if winning this.

Zabana, who has been heavily backed into 10/1 second-favourite for the JLT, took some notable scalps when making a winning chase debut at the track and looks the obvious danger to Outlander.

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For more horse racing tips and preview, check out our comprehensive coverage on the dedicated section.

Coral’s top tips: Ivanovich Gorbatov rates a rock solid bet to land the Spring Juvenile Hurdle. Tombstone and Outlander look decent value to provide owners the Gigginstown House Stud with a big race double.

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