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Cheltenham Champion Chase dark horse a fine punt for Naas test

| 22.02.2015

Naas’ Grade 2 chase over 2m at 15.50 looks set to be a fascinating little contest between three horses keeping plenty of good company of late, without showing particularly scintillating recent form.

Likely favourite Mallowney won his first race in five last time out at Fairyhouse in a 2m1f handicap chase, seeing off the much-liked Bright New Dawn, but Timothy Doyle’s nine-year-old failed in his past two attempts at 2m and has only won two of seven races over the distance since March 2013.

Willie Mullins’ Twinlight has had a busy campaign so far, winning twice and getting to within five lengths of Sprinter Sacre in the top-class chaser’s comeback at Ascot, but the French import is now on a two-race losing streak and also has a poor record over this distance, claiming victory in just one of his past five runs.

The interesting contender is Henry de Bromhead’s Moscow Mannon, who Davy Russell has hopped off, having been on board for six of the gelding’s last seven races, in favour of the jolly.

Moscow Mannon has serious form in the book over the past 12 months, including a half-length second to God’s Own in the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase at Punchestown in May, ahead of Mullins’ Champagne Fever, and an easy Grade 3 win over high-class pair Felix Yonger and Mount Colah here in November.

De Bromhead’s charge has had Mallowney behind him in each of their three meetings over the bigger obstacles, including in his last run out at Leopardstown over Xmas, when Twinlight took the laurels.

Moscow Mannon is a best-priced 33/1 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, which makes him a live candidate in a wide-open renewal containing some shaky market leaders, including Champagne Fever at 5/1, so a big run for the nine-year-old here will see his odds shrink.

That looks reasonably likely given a line of form from last February, when Moscow Mannon blitzed useful Willie Mullins animal Abbey Lane, and 13 others, by 15l at this track over this trip.

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

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.