# Bankers
5 Irish horses that can pay the bills, bust the bailout at Cheltenham
Angela Merkel thinks we’re in the bookies — here are five Irish fancies that you need to keep an eye on.

THERE’S ONLY ONE thing better than backing a winner at Cheltenham and that’s backing an Irish winner. That way, you get a sense of patriotism and some lovely lucre all rolled in to one neat four-legged package.

If you want to buy Irish, here are five of our top tips for this week. Feel free to disagree — we don’t mind so long as you tell us who is actually going to win.

1. Hurricane Fly

Race: Champion Hurdle (Tuesday, 3.20pm)

Willie Mullins’ Hurricane Fly is the horse that everybody is going to be talking about in Tuesday’s big race. The question is: which Hurricane Fly will show up? Will it be the one who stormed up Cheltenham’s famous hill to win this race in 2011? Or will it be the one who looked a shadow of himself when finishing third last year?

All the signs so far this season point towards the former, thankfully. If Hurricane Fly is back to his best, it will take something a very special run to stop him.

Odds: 2/1

2. Quevega

Race: OLBG David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle (Tuesday, 4.40pm)

They don’t call Quevega “the wondermare” for nothing. In fact, that doesn’t even begin to do justice to how far she is ahead of her female peers. She has only been beaten once since 2009, a run which includes a jaw-dropping four successive wins in this race.

Nowadays Willie Mullins only brings her out once or twice a year for the big races, which she invariably wins. She can’t go on forever but you’d be a fool to bet against her this week.

Odds: 8/15

3. Pont Alexandre

Race: Neptune Novice Hurdle (Wednesday, 2.05pm)

If Hurricane Fly and Quevega have been the Irish stars of recent years, Pont Alexandre is one for the future. When Barry Geraghty calls a horse “a Denman in the making”, you sit up and pay attention.

This is only his third race but no horse has managed to come within 10 lengths of him in his two previous wins. Wednesday will be a little more of a test but there’s nothing to suggest that he won’t be good enough.

Odds: 7/4

4. Our Conor

Race: Triumph Hurdle (Friday, 1.30pm)

Friday’s Triumph Hurdle is one of the most competitive runnings of the race in recent memory, but Our Conor from the Dessie Hughes yard is the one they all have to beat.

After missing his Christmas race at Leopardstown due to a cough (we’ve all been there, don’t judge him), he turned heads with a superb performance to win the Spring Hurdle at Leopardstown last month. A repeat of that run will give him every chance.

Odds: 4/1

5. Sir des Champs

Race: Gold Cup (Friday, 3.20pm)

It has been seven years since an Irish horse last won the big one: the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Sir des Champs (another Mullins runner — are you sensing a trend here?) is our best chance of ending that drought.

Unfortunately this is a seriously competitive field. Anybody that knows anything about racing will tell you that horses like Bobs Worth, Silviniaco Conti and former winner Long Run have to be respected.

We know Sir des Champs stays up the hill — he won here the last two years — so if he gets his jumping right, he will be a legitimate contender.

Odds: 4/1

All photos (c) INPHO

Have we missed your Irish banker of the festival? Let us know in the comments section below.

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