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Naas: Heed Ruby’s clues and hop off unbeaten Cheltenham fancy

| 06.02.2015

Ruby Walsh has swerved Saturday’s meeting at Naas to ride Willie Mullins raider Wicklow Brave in Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle, making the six-year-old a very interesting each-way proposition at 16/1 in the process.

Even more inttriguing is the fact that Walsh would have been due to ride Vroum Vroum Mag, the Mullins-trained, Ricci-owned inmate priced up at 16/1 in three Cheltenham Festival Grade One events, namely the JLT Novices’ Chase, the Mares Hurdle and the RSA Chase.

She has won all three of her starts handsomely at odds on since being taken under the County Carlow handler’s wing over the summer, but faces a tough task in Kildare against Robert Tyner’s Whatwillwecallher.

Tyner’s girl has won five of only seven starts since her debut under rules just over four years ago, with injuries keeping her out from November 2011 until last month, when the 10-year-old waltzed a beginners’ chase by eight lengths under A P McCoy at this track.

Vroum Vroum Mag looks likely to go off as heavy favourite for the 13.55, but with Whatwillwecallher receiving 8lbs from Mullins’ hotpot, she might not have it all her own way.

By the same rationale, it’s hard to argue with Racing Post nap Gilt Shadow for trainer Andrew Lynch in the 15.40, with Danny Mullins deputising for Walsh again on Blood Cotil.

The six-year-old doesn’t exactly look thrown in, having been pushed into third here last time out early in January, when 10/11 favourite, and is becoming hard to trust after five successive losses, four of them at 2/1 or shorter.

Mullins senior does look to have a likely sort in the last at 4.45, with unbeaten Ricci animal Pylonthepressure, who can currently be backed at 16/1 for the Cheltenham Champion Bumper, taken to edge what’s sure to be a dogged tussle with Gordon Elliott’s Space Cadet.

The beauty of this pick, compared to the other Mullins pair on show across the Irish Sea, lies in the fact that the hotshot trainer’s amateur rider son Patrick was always going to have the mount.

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

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Alex Fortune