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Of all Willie Mullins' runners the 10-1 about this superstar makes most sense

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FIRST of all – an apology.

I am hesitant to tip a horse for next year’s Cheltenham Festival a full ten months in advance.

Ballyburn swept all before him this year and a step up to three miles and chasing will suit

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Ballyburn swept all before him this year and a step up to three miles and chasing will suitCredit: PA

But in my defence the markets have already been live since March 15 and that must be for a reason – namely, people love to punt on Cheltenham.

And with many of the horses following tried and tested routes to success, we can back something now and then strap ourselves in for the rollercoaster highs and lows over the winter months.

There’s always risk with ante-post punts but it’s also a great time of year to go shopping for some early prices.

And one that jumped out even before he won at Punchestown over 2m4½f was the 12-1 about Ballyburn for the Brown Advisory.

Ronnie Bartlett’s all-conquering hurdler was clipped into 10-1 after last week’s win, which came on the back of his 2m5f Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle success at the Festival.

And I think backing him now – while always a risk with Mullins and his infamous knack for chopping and changing where horses run – is value.

Sure, Mullins said his Gallagher win – where he thrashed Jimmy De Seuil by 13 lengths – was a ‘Champion Hurdle performance’.

But I think that spoke more to what he just saw rather than what the future holds.

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In the same interview Mullins – remember, the man can speak in riddles – added: “We might just get on chasing and try to make a Gold Cup horse out of him.”

While at Punchestown Mullins suggested Ballyburn’s pedigree lends itself to the three-mile route.

Watch Willie Mullins give deadpan three-word answer in interview after feature Cheltenham winner

OK, so he lacked his usual spark in winning there but was still one of the Mullins’ jollies to go in at a meeting where Gaelic Warrior and Galopin Des Champs lost.

Mullins already has the awesome Lossiemouth and State Man to go up against Sir Gino and probably Constitution Hill in next year’s Champion Hurdle.

While his staying novice chasing squad this year was monstrous, led by the likes of Fact To File and Inothewayurthinkin.

Ballyburn’s dam was an unraced mare but her sire was Old Vic whose progeny include Kicking King, the 2004 King George and 2005 Gold Cup winner.

In six runs at three miles or more, the only times he didn’t win were when pulled up in 2008 – on his third-last run – and when losing to Beef Or Salmon in a Down Royal Grade 1 in 2004.

Mind you, they raced off level weights that day despite Kicking King being rated 18lbs inferior.

Grand National winner Don’t Push It also features in Old Vic’s list of progeny.

And Ballyburn’s sire is Flemensfirth, whose best son was, you guessed it, a former Gold Cup winner in the shape of 2010 hero Imperial Commander.

It all leads me to believe the three-mile route could be the one for Ballyburn.

Hopefully he has a happy summer, comes back bigger and stronger and can give us a decent slip to sit on over the next few months.

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