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Ballycasey has RSA Chase written all over him says Willie Mullins

Ballycasey established himself as a solid favourite to win the RSA Chase at this year's Cheltenham Festival after bravely landing the Dr PJ Moriarty Chase at Leopardstown as a late stand-in for Champagne Fever.

The last-named horse had been earmarked to run in the 2m 5f Grade One contest but was pulled out after looking slightly out of sorts at home, but Ballycasey proved a more than able deputy for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh.

The lightly-raced seven-year-old had previously only won a bumper, two low-key novice hurdle contests and a beginners chase at Navan but showed no signs of being inexperienced as he outstayed Don Cossack on the run-in after Carlingford Lough had unseated Tony McCoy when also in contention at the final fence.

Mullins said: "He's not bad for a first reserve. Champagne Fever couldn't run at the last minute, I had left him in the race not intending to run him but when I wasn't happy with the other one on Friday morning I let this fella take his chance.

"He had a few problems after his last run, but we just put him away and took a chance on bringing him back and so far, touch wood, fingers crossed, he'll be okay for Cheltenham.

"You have to give yourself options but he would have RSA written all over him at the moment. We always thought he'd be a good chaser and he just looks a natural the way he jumps, he's great to watch. Every time Ruby gave him a squeeze he responded and was very good with his jumping.

"He worked at Punchestown last week and Paul Townend was adamant that he had worked really well. He's a son of Presenting and he'd probably be better on better ground at Cheltenham."

Mullins has enjoyed success before in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham, striking with Florida Pearl in 1998, Rule Supreme in 2004 and Cooldine five years ago, while four of the last five winners of that race have been trained in Ireland.


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Ballycasey has RSA Chase written all over him says Willie Mullins

Ballycasey established himself as a solid favourite to win the RSA Chase at this year's Cheltenham Festival after bravely landing the Dr PJ Moriarty Chase at Leopardstown as a late stand-in for Champagne Fever.

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