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Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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By Marc Owen-Banks ValueChecker

Zaarito out of Ryanair Chase Injured – Poquelin Favourite

Zaarito, Colm Murphy's 9 year old gelding will once again miss Cheltenham this year after suffering a setback and injury, with the damaged ligaments that caused him to miss the MCR Hurdle at Leopardstown last month.

Poquelin heads the Ryanair Chase market
© Grossick Racing Photography


Its not the first time he has missed the festival since finishing third in the 2008 renewal of the Champion Bumper, and that run remains his only visit to these shores. With the injury flaring up once again, Murphy has indicated that he will be out for three to four weeks at least and the target now is too have him back for Fairyhouse at Easter or Leopardstown in May.

He was no sure thing for the Ryanair, trading as a 33/1 chance for the race. At this time Paul Nicholls' Poquelin heads the market at a best price 4/1 generally available. With almost identical preparation as last year in partaking in the BetVictor Gold Cup in November and then going on to win the Grade 3 Gold Cup in December at 7/2 in 2009, and surprisingly 16/1 in 2010, he has not been since as was the case last year when finally finishing runner up in the Ryanair to surprise winner Albertas Run when favourite. Will the same fate await him this time round?

Albertas Run is in again, as is Riverside Theatre who looks likely to go straight to this race now after the Newbury abandonment due to the electrocution of the two horses in the parade ring on Saturday. Tranquil Sea and Kalahari King will also be popular alternatives to Poquelin.

Certainly not a straightforward race to unravel, it promises to be as exciting as ever in 2011.


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