The Gowran Park Champion Chase betting tips at Horsebetting.com say the improvement Balko Des Flos has made since finishing second in the 2m 4f Grade 2 feature contest last season means he’s a worthy favourite to win this year’s renewal on Saturday, 6 October, given trainer Henry De Bromhead’s superb record in the race. Ballyoisin represents Enda Bolger and JP McManus, and is another progressive type, so is feared most. A Toi Phil landed the race 12 months ago for powerful owners Gigginstown House Stud, so is a solid each-way bet again. Read more about this big race in our 2018 Gowran Park Champion Chase betting tips preview.Balko Des Flos the Champion Chase bet at Gowran ParkNobody has a better record in the 2m 4f Grade 2 Gowran Park Champion Chase in recent years than County Waterford handler Henry De Bromhead with four wins, a second and a third since 2011. Balko Des Flos made real progress last season and was runner-up in this 12 months ago; so, on subsequent Grade 1 and Cheltenham Festival form, looks a worthy favourite to go one better in Saturday’s feature contest in Ireland (15:40).
The seven-year-old came into this race last year off the back of a comfortable and classy five-length victory in the ultra-competitive Galway Plate Handicap Chase. Balko Des Flos made a costly mistake three out here that blunted his momentum, but he still stuck to the task well as a 6 1/2 lengths runner-up to the re-opposing A Toi Phil and the pair pulled 22 lengths clear of the field.
There was just 7lb between Balko Des Flos and this other Gigginstown House Stud owned gelding on ratings then, but that has since increased to 13lb. As A Toi Phil has only won a Grade 3 since, whereas De Bromhead’s charge earned victory at the highest level, it means the form of last year’s race should be reversed.
This is because Balko Des Flos, who is versatile as regards ground, defied massive odds of 66/1 when a gallant runner-up in the Grade 1 Leopardstown Christmas Chase over 3m. That was his first test at a real stayers’ trip in open company and, having race prominently throughout, he was only headed on the run-in by subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup fourth Road To Respect when beaten just 1 1/4 lengths.
It was an absolutely massive run, given Balko Des Flos had been well-beaten as a novice over that distance. Connections wisely kept him fresh for a crack at the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase dropping back in trip to 2m 5f and Gigginstown supremo Michael O’Leary finally won his own money in the intermediate distance championship contest at Cheltenham.
Balko Des Flos tracked the leaders, then took it up when going best three out and drew clear in between the final two fences. He only had to be ridden out by Davy Russell for a stunning 4 1/2 lengths success over previous Ryanair winner Un De Sceaux.
This was a career best effort by some way from Balko Des Flos and the runner-up is one of Willie Mullins’ top chasers with nine Grade 1 victories between 2m and two-and-a-half miles. The form line through Un De Sceaux, who beat A Toi Phil in two subsequent runs after the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, only adds further weight to the case that last year’s Gowran Park Champion Chase placings can be reversed.
While Balko Des Flos was only fourth in the Grade 1 Melling Chase at Aintree on his final start of the campaign, he raced too freely on Merseyside and the run may have come a little too soon after his Cheltenham heroics. He goes well fresh, however, and won first time out last season, so there’s lots to like about him for this.
As he’s 12lbs and upwards clear of the field on official ratings off a mark of 169, Balko Des Flos still comes out well on top despite a 7lb penalty for his Grade 1 success. Whether this is the start of a campaign that culminates in a Cheltenham Gold Cup bid remains to be seen, but he’s readily put up as our main selection among these 2018 Gowran Park Champion Chase betting tips.Improving Ballyoisin feared most for BolgerThe terms of the race mean Ballyoisin doesn’t carry a penalty here and, as he’s closest to Balko Des Flos on ratings at 157, he’s got just 5lb to find which is less than most here. As he’s won his last three starts for trainer Enda Bolger and owner JP McManus, the seven-year-old is still improving and therefore the one that may give the favourite most to think about.
Ballyoisin is by Presenting and a King’s Ride mare and has won five of his 11 starts over fences. He came to grief four out when still just ahead of Balko Des Flos on his chase debut at Fairyhouse back on New Year’s Day in 2017, so this rematch is a long time coming.
Bolger quickly turned him out again, however, and Ballyoisin was no worse for taking that tumble as he made all over the same course and distance. He has since landed Grade B handicaps at Killarney and Cork and then chased home Disko in a Grade 2 at Down Royal when closing all the way up the run-in to go down by a diminishing half-a-length.
There’s no doubt Ballyoisin has more to offer after landing both his chase starts this season. In the first of those, he made all in a Grade 3 at Killarney and followed-up at Punchestown when again running from the front and scoring by eight lengths over Woodland Opera and another former Gowran Park Champion Chase winner Ballycasey.
While Ballyoisin has nothing to fear from those who re-oppose here, it’s also interesting connections plundered a valuable Grade B handicap hurdle at the Listowel Harvest Festival when dropping him back to 2m last time out. It’s helped keep him race fit for this run, and a bold bid thus looks assured.Last year’s winner A Toi Phil solid each-wayThe aforementioned A Toi Phil landed this 12 months ago off the same race terms and is now rated 5lb higher. Gordon Elliott’s Gigginstown owned eight-year-old also meets Balko Des Flos on 7lb better terms in this renewal, so that gives him every chance of at least making the frame again.
Had he not left the race behind him last season, then A Toi Phil would be shorter in the betting. He did confirm the form when runner-up in the Grade 2 Clonmel Oil Chase after finishing a 10-length fourth to Disko at Down Royal in-between, but is lacking the consistency of Balko Des Flos.
A Toi Phil was beaten 14 lengths by Sizing John when fourth in the Grade 1 John Durkan at Punchestown and then a 13-length runner-up in a Listed affair at Tarmore. That was a below part effort, but he resumed winning ways in the Grade 3 Kinloch Brae at Thurles when staying on well to assert from the last and running out a comfortable nine-length victor.
He failed to follow-up on that win, however, when an 18 lengths fourth of five to the ill-fated Our Duke over course and distance in the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase. A Toi Phil was next beaten the same distance by Un De Sceaux during Fairyhouse’s Easter Festival and then third to that rival in the Punchestown Champion Chase when dropped back in trip to 2m.
On the pick of his form, it’s clear A Toi Phil has to come into the reckoning. His record on the forecast good ground is mixed and he’s not open to as much improvement as Balko Des Flos, but a mark of 156 puts him right in the mix for a tilt at defending his title and that’s why he had to feature among our 2018 Gowran Park Champion Chase betting tips.Your Next Bet