Racing: Ballerina has the toe to take limelight from His Song

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The Independent Online
EVERYONE knows the name of the only horse to win consecutive races at the Festival (Montelado, who took the bumper that closed the 1992 fixture and the Supreme Novices' Hurdle that opened the 1993 meeting), but his trainer, Pat Flynn, should not be forgotten either.

From only a handful of Cheltenham runners, Flynn has also saddled a bumper runner-up in Aries Girl and the sole representative of his Carrick-on- Suir stable this week, French Ballerina, should be respected too when she takes on one of the Irish hot pots, His Song, in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle tomorrow, St Patrick's Day.

Flynn does not fear Mouse Morris's charge. "French Ballerina is a special horse with a lot of speed. She won three Listed races on the Flat and she stays well too. Like Montelado and Aries Girl, I've given her a break to keep her fresh."

Flynn pinpoints the other key Irish runners on whom so much depends this week: "Istabraq in the Champion, the novice Florida Pearl, Joe Mac in the bumper and Dorans Pride in the Gold Cup."

It would be foolish to be blinded by the big names, though - even Montelado's win came at the expense of the much-touted Tiananmen Square.

"Aidan O'Brien's Cloone Bridge is a nice horse who will make French Holly work in the Sun Alliance Hurdle," Flynn says. "He has a bit of experience on his side."

Others to watch for are J P McManus's Time For A Run, who has run well at the last four Festivals and Ted Walsh's course winner, Papillon.

Metastasio will be suited by the marathon trip of the Gold Card Final, while Hill Society, who ran well in last year's Champion, has the class for the Arkle. Enda Bolger has fine prospects with Lucky Town, one of eight Irish entries in the four-mile chase, and Elegant Lord in the Foxhunters'. Iron County Xmas, in the Triumph Hurdle, is reported to be in the same league as Dermot Weld's previous winner of the race, Rare Holiday.