Berlais taking flight in Ryanair
Willie Mullins expects Gitane Du Berlais to prove difficult to beat in the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.
The mare is joined in the race by stablemate Valseur Lido, already a Grade One winner this season but well beaten into third by Mullins' Vautour in the JLT at Cheltenham last month.
Gitane Du Berlais has already beaten the boys once this season at Sandown and last time out picked up a big pot in France.
Writing on his website, Mullins said: "Valseur Lido is a course and distance winner and was third to Vautour at Cheltenham. He has been working well but might find this trip a little on the short side.
"Gitane Du Berlais is improving all the time and the form of the hurdle race she won at Auteuil last month has been working out well. With her weight allowance she should go very close."
Ruby Walsh had the choice of the pair but feels the allowances Gitane Du Berlais gets made her impossible to ignore.
"With Bryan Cooper suspended I could have ridden Valseur Lido but opted for Gitane Du Berlais," he said in his Irish Examiner column.
"She beat Irish Saint in Sandown with no five-year-old allowance. She gets that allowance here and, with the mares' allowance as well, is getting 15lb off Valseur Lido. Irish Saint was just behind Valseur Lido in the JLT.
"She was very good in France when Jacques Ricou rode her. She only had 9st 10lb on her back but bolted in in a decent hurdle race. It's a toss of a coin but I think with the weight she's getting, she could be hard to beat.
"It's a very good race with Gilgamboa, Apache Stronghold and Valseur Lido. Without Don Poli, Vautour and Un De Sceaux, these are the best novices around in Ireland or England.
"I rode Valseur Lido in work on Thursday. He worked well but the massive weight allowance and likely testing ground is what swung me towards Gitane."