Cork's O'Connell family have a special connection to Cheltenham

Un De Sceaux enjoyed great success at the Festival
Cork's O'Connell family have a special connection to Cheltenham

Panellists Kevin O'Ryan, Joseph O'Brien, AP McCoy, Gary O'Brien and Colm O'Connell, all sporting the Un De Sceaux colours with proprietor Ronan Murphy, during the Cheltenham preview night at the Castle Bar in 2018. Picture: David Keane.

FOR many years the O’Connell family have enjoyed the glitz that goes hand in hand with competing at the Cheltenham Festival.

This week they will, like thousands of racing fanatics in Ireland, enjoying it in the comfort of their homes.

For Colm O’Connell whose association with Un De Sceaux they were years to savour, but in his own words all good things come to an end. The knowledge that Colm has taken from the sport is invaluable and he has some interesting views on the key races at the Festival.

Ruby Walsh celebrates victory on Un De Sceaux in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeplechase at Cheltenham in 2015. Picture: Michael Steele/Getty Images
Ruby Walsh celebrates victory on Un De Sceaux in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeplechase at Cheltenham in 2015. Picture: Michael Steele/Getty Images

In the Gold Cup, the reigning champion Al Boum Photo looks a serious contender and Colm is confident it can complete the hat-trick in the Blue Riband race.

“It doesn’t look a particularly strong race so you would have to say if the favourite brings his best form to the table he has every chance of doing the business,” said Colm O’Connell.

The Champion Hurdle is always a popular race, but surprisingly Colm found a blank when asked about his thoughts on the race.

“I couldn’t actually nail a horse and when that happens to me, I consistently have no bet,” added Colm.

The Arkle Chase is always a quality one on the Cheltenham card and Colm came up with an interesting outsider that he feels will run a big race.

“Franco De Port is 16/1 and for an each-way bet it ticks all the right boxes but with Shiskin and Energumene in the field it promises to be an intriguing race.”

The Ryanair chase is another Grade 1 race that promises to be a cracker and having experienced his charge Un De Sceaux finishing runner up Colm believes sometimes the race doesn’t go to plan for fancied horses.

“The betting as Allaho leading it as a 5/1 chance but for me if Imperial Aura’s jumping is at its best, I can see him running a huge race and at moment his 13/2 price tag is a decent one.”

Surprisingly, Colm has waited until the last day to give his nap of the meeting.

“The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle has a very open look to it but for me the horse that stands out is the former Gordon Elliott charge Wide Receiver who will now be under the Denise Foster banner.

“Wide Receiver is a talented horse and at the generous odds of 8/1 I am sure he will round off the week for us in style.”

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