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Weekend Review - Scotsirish looks Cross Country banker

Scotsirish looks the one to beat in Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham Festival

Another weekend, another Willie Mullins winner.  And this time we could well have seen a Cheltenham Festival winner at Punchestown, as Scotsirish cemented his place at the head of the Cross Country Handicap Chase betting with an impressive win at Punchestown on Sunday.

Throughout the contest, Patrick Mullins was travelling like a dream aboard the eleven-year-old and he oozed confidence as he stalked the leaders turning for home.  A sticky jump at the last saw him headed by Tally Em Up, but he duly picked up for Mullins' urgings after the last to win comfortably by two lengths.

Cut to around 5/2 for the Cheltenham Festival contest on March 13, the Co. Carlow inmate looks to be far too classy for most of his rivals and with the old stager Garde Champetre looking past his best then he will certainly spearhead the Irish onslaught on the Glenfarclas contest.

A top two-miler in his time, he has taken to the unique Cross Country obstacles like a duck to water and even though he had his copybook blotted when being forced to take the wrong course at Cheltenham's International meeting, Mullins' raider will certainly be the one to beat on the opening day of the Festival.

Sizing should have the measure of his rivals in Champion

Bookmakers were running scared on Sunday afternoon after Sizing Europe stormed to victory in the Tied Cottage Chase, annihilating Big Zeb in the process, and it saw the Henry De Bromhead-trained raider slashed for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

An ultra-impressive winner of the 2m contest at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival, the ten-year-old merely brushed aside his market rival at Punchestown on Sunday and will certainly be tough to peg back at Prestbury Park on March 14.

Awesome round the undulations of Cheltenham, he has been victorious at the last two Festivals with success in the 2010 Arkle, and with better ground much more in his favour and only a smidgen of lively opposition in the division this year, the reigning champion could be far too good again in this year's renewal.

One To Watch

Charles Byrnes' Trifolium propelled himself into the reckoning for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle after a scintillating performance in the Grade Two Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday.

Sent clear towards the end of the back straight, he picked up in taking fashion and with Byrnes' eluding after the race that the five-year-old would benefit from better ground, then could well be a player come the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.