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Cheltenham 2017: Monksland and Allblak will be in Coral Cup mix

By Ron McKnight

Monksland and Allblak Des Places are a pair of locally-owned contenders in the ultra-competitive Coral Cup today at Cheltenham.

Allblak Des Places is trained by Willie Mullins and owned by Belfast-based George Creighton, who enjoyed considerable Cheltenham success with Champion Hurdler Hurricane Fly which he jointly owned with Rose Boyd, and at 33/1 could have place claims.

Monksland has failed to really adapt to fences and reverted to hurdling for the Hunt family, major long-standing supporters of Navan trainer Noel Meade, and also has each way prospects.

Tombstone - winner of a bumper at the Down Royal Festival in 2015 - was considered a possible Champion Hurdle contender but opts for this race and will be hard to beat.

Day two of the Cheltenham Festival last year proved a bonanza for exports from the province.

Bellshill, which ran in the opener at the Festival last year prior to being denied by a neck at Aintree by Ballyoptic, his former stable companion at the Templepatrick stables of trainer Colin McKeever, will bid to give Wilson Dennison back-to-back victories in the RSA Novice Chase following Blaklion's victory last season.

The locally-bred Bobs Worth also won the race prior to landing the Gold Cup in 2013, while Weapons Amnesty was another local breeding success in 2010.

God's Own, bought by Belfast Bloodstock agent Kevin Ross for trainer Tom George, looks to have place prospects at best in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, with the mighty Douvan impossible to oppose.

Dodgybingo, fourth behind Mega Fortune at the Down Royal Festival having won his maiden hurdle at the Lisburn course, could belie his big odds in the Fred Winter Hurdle.

The Champion bumper, won twice by Belfast solicitor Robert Sinclair (Rhythm Section in 1993 and Wither Or Witch in 1996), is the finale and is always a betting bonanza - especially for Irish connections.

Mullins, who trained Wither or Witch, is at the double with Carter McKay and Next Destination.

Jamie Codd partners Fayonagh for trainer Gordon Elliott, who is seeking further Cheltenham success.

Belfast Telegraph

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