Keep faith in Vautour unless Saint performs miracles

 

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Gitane Du Berlais is far from the front rank of Willie Mullins’ Cheltenham raiding party, but may provide the Irish trainer with a fair degree of comfort at Sandown on Saturday.

The brilliant Vautour is one of nine ante-post Festival favourites housed at Co Carlow and Mullins will feel even more optimistic of victory in the JLT Novices’ Chase if Gitane Du Berlais – decent, but not rated in the same league – can embarrass some of Britain’s best in the division in the Grade One Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase.

Irish Saint (2.25 Sandown) was impressive last time and might well have the edge over Champagne West and Splash Of Ginge, but he will need to produce a spectacular display to give Vautour’s connections any cause for concern.

Similarly, Jollyallan, a well-backed outsider for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, will need to come up with something special this afternoon to dent the confidence behind Douvan for the Festival opener. Indeed, he may play second fiddle here to the strong Triumph Hurdle fancy Bristol De Mai (1.15 Sandown), who could not have been more impressive when beating a good field at Chepstow on his British debut.

Bookies offering 16-1 clearly believe that Anteros (3.00 Sandown) was flattered by creditable efforts on his last two outings in good novice company, but he looks to be improving.

One-time smart chaser William’s Wishes (2.05 Ffos Las) has shown glimpses of his old form this winter and could be a surprise packet in the Welsh Champion Hurdle.

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