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Cheltenham Prediction: Monalee To Get The Better of the RSA Chase

Monalee – 7-2 William Hill.  2.10pm Cheltenham Wednesday 14th March

Two horses stand out among the possible field for next Wednesday’s RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, namely the 5-2 market leader Presenting Percy and Monalee from the Henry De Bromhead stable, available at a best price 7-2 with William Hill for the extended three mile contest known as the Gold Cup for novices.

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Both horses possess similar profiles having performed well at last year’s festival before impressing in their switch to the bigger obstacles over the last few months. The burdon of 11st 11lb could not stop Presenting Percy from running out an easy winner of the Pertemps Final twelve months ago for shrewd handler Patrick G Kelly and the seven-year-old has looked just as good, if not better, since turning his hand to chasing recording victories at Galway and Fairyhouse, the latter being by eleven lengths win off top weight in a competitive handicap.

It was the son of Sir Percy’s most recent start however which marked him out as a top staying chaser of the future when failing by only a length to hold off leading Gold Cup candidate Our Duke in the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park. On that performance the mount of Davy Russell is entitled to head the betting at Cheltenham but the one horse who could prevent the gelding from recording back-to-back wins at the festival is last year’s Albert Bartlett runner-up Monalee.

Despite some excellent form over hurdles, chasing was always going to be the game for this Milan gelding and the seven-year-old looked a natural on his debut over fences at Punchestown in November. Jumping like an old hand Monalee hardly broke sweat in making all of the running, coming home by a long-looking six lengths from a field of promising novices. On the back of that run the horse was sent off the even money favourite for a Leopardstown contest only to fall at the tenth fence when going well in third place. That one uncharacteristic error may have been a blessing in disguise as it could have taught Monalee a valuable lesson and with the gelding’s jumping back to his brilliant best in the Grade 1 Flogas Novices’ Chase, also at Leopardstown on his most recent start, the mount of new Cheltenham pilot Noel Fehily once again made all to see off his high-class rivals.

While both horses look sure to go on to make their mark over fences in the months/years ahead the deciding factor on this occasion could be the better jumping ability of the Henry De Bromhead-trained second favourite.