Saturday, 30 September 2017

Balko Des Flos out to establish chasing credentials in Irish Grade Two contest

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Henry De Bromhead is expecting Galway Plate hero Balko Des Flos to strengthen his Ryanair Chase claims, as he seeks a first pattern victory in Gowran Park's Champion Chase (4:00).

The six-year-old didn't enjoy the best novice chasing campaign last season, where better was expected when a runner-up at Grade Three and handicap level but he showed promise when third in a Grade One.

He utilised a handy mark to storm clear in a competitive Galway Plate, thumping his nearest rival Shaneshill by just under five lengths.

Following a 12lb rise in the weights, handcapping is out of the equation and he is expected to make a winning start in pattern company.

"He seems in good form and we're happy with him going into the race," said De Bromhead.

"I was really impressed with the way he won at Galway, and I feel he is still improving.

"This is a competitive little race but he deserves to be there. I am looking forward to running him, and hopefully he will be very competitive."

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Shaneshill has finished second on two visits to the Cheltenham Festival, Champion Bumper (2014) and RSA Chase (2015).

Shaneshill is targeting his first pattern victory over fences for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh.

A two-time Grade Two winner over hurdles in the calendar year, he hasn't been seen since finishing twice at Galway including behind today's market leader.

Mullins' also saddles veteran Ballycasey who won this contest last year, he finished a narrow loser in a prep run over hurdles for this.

Gordon Elliott's A Toi Phil takes his place in the 2m4f contest, Kylecrue may find this a tough assignment.

Balko Des Flos is currently priced at 20-1 for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, a market led by exciting chaser Fox Norton.

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