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Poll: Vote for your breathtaking novice performance of the week

| 13.03.2015

From the Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh demolition job on day one, to Dodging Bullets being crowned champion, to grand old veteran The Package bringing the house down in the Kim Muir, there’s been a plethora of talking points so far this week.

But today is all about the big one, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

And as Coneygree looks to banish the stat that says no novice has won the showpiece event since 1974, we are focusing on those young upstarts we’ve seen in this epic week.

So we want to know, what was your most impressive performance from a novice at Prestbury Park in the last three days?

Douvan – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

When Willie Mullins describes one of his as “as nice a horse” as he’s “had ever going to Cheltenham”, you should really take note.

The five-year-old entered the opening race of the Festival as a 2/1 favourite, looking to defend his unbeaten record, and boy did he do that.

Pulling clear from the chasing pack in blistering fashion, Ruby Walsh’s first winner of the week was a devastating one, earning quotes of 4/1 for next year’s Champion Hurdle in the process.

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Un De Sceaux – Arkle Chase

Many had stated that if Un De Sceaux stays on his feet, he wins the Arkle.

And it’s safe to say he did that without breaking sweat.

Travelling with his usual zest, and putting in some spectacular leaps, there was no sign that he was going to tip up as he treated Cheltenham’s usually testing fences with shear disregard.

The performance had the hallmarks of Sprinter Sacre’s walkover of two years ago, and Ladbrokes were equally impressed, introducing him to next year’s Champion Chase market as 7/4 favourite.

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Windsor Park – Neptune Novices’ Chase

The only option in our list that wasn’t sent off favourite, yet Dermot Weld’s charge was heavily supported in the market.

Like those above him in our shortlist, he was ridden prominently by Davy Russell, getting plenty of daylight at his hurdles.

Jumping with real fluency, it was proven that a step up in trip was just the ticket for six-year-old.

Whether he steps up in trip for the World Hurdle in 12 months time, or goes chasing remains to be seen, but it was certainly an eye-catching performance.

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Don Poli – RSA Chase

Surprise, surprise another Willie Mullins entry.

With around five fences to jump a slight error caused Bryan Cooper to ask for something from the Gigginstown-owned gelding.

And at the next fence he certainly got that, a big leap bringing him to the front and back on to the bridle.

A real stout staying performance up the hill saw the race go to Ireland once again and a quote of 5/1 for the Gold Cup come about.

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Vautour – JLT Novices’ Chase

As last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner put plenty of air between himself and the last couple of fences in the 2m4f contest, there were audible gasps heard around the Ladbrokes office, such was the impressive nature of his leaps.

With frightening ground speed, economical leaps and a real engine to get him up that hill, nothing was going with Vautour in the JLT Novices Chase.

While his galloping pace would hint a step down in trip could be tempting, the Gold Cup looks the plan with a price of 4/1 that he steps up for the big one next year.

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Who was most impressive for you? Vote now in our latest poll…

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.