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WATCH: Upping The Ante: Brides Hill gets double vote of confidence

As the Cheltenham Festival begins to loom ever closer on the horizon, David Jennings and Johnny Dineen are continuing their popular countdown on Upping The Ante.

On this week's episode, David and Johnny answer your questions before looking ahead to the action at Punchestown, Thurles and Kempton this week, as well as continuing their Charity Bet duel and finishing off with their all-important ante-post Cheltenham Festival selections.

Watch the show on the link above or read below for some of the best bits from the latest episode of Upping The Ante in association with bet365 as both pundits take a liking to Brides Hill for her target at Thurles this week.

Johnny eats humble pie after Shishkin renaissance

Not surprisingly, the first port of call in this week's 'Questions from the Crowd' section was to Shishkin after his Ascot Chase demolition job on Saturday.

Johnny Dineen was very much against the dual Cheltenham Festival winner going into the race given the doubts that had emerged around him, but he won well and is now 6/5 for the Ryanair Chase next month.

So what, then, does Johnny make of the 'new' Shishkin?

"He was fantastic on Saturday. If you were like me and you went against him, after about three fences you [knew] you were in bother," Johnny said. "The last half-mile was like waiting for an axe to fall - it was all over really wasn't it. It was a superlative performance. It was almost a career-best.

"Hats off to (Nicky Henderson) it was some performance to get him back. As regards the Ryanair…if he reproduces that run, he will win the Ryanair. He's just [better] than the horses that are in there."

Johnny later went on to nominate Shishkin as his 'Performance of the Week' as he labelled it a run 'for the ages'.

Stumptown one to note in Kim Muir

The second question this week sought opinion from both Upping The Ante pundits on their idea of a 'handicap good thing' for the Cheltenham Festival.

Johnny went first and put up Stumptown at 7/1 in the Kim Muir, which would also be his ante-post Festival selection this week by the end of the show.

"His jumping is immaculate all of a sudden, it has improved brilliantly. He gave an exhibition of jumping in Sandown last Thursday.

"It was another race where if you were against him, you were in trouble early, he was completely different class.

"He won off 125 in Sandown, he'll probably go up another 8lb or 10lb, but he's entitled to and he's only six, he's improving hand over fist and Gavin Cromwell is a great operator too. The Kim Muir is full of exposed horses most of the time - I'd be going for something young and unexposed."

David, meanwhile, doubled down on Walking On Air at 10/1 in the Pertemps Final after he went up 5lb for his recent Exeter win.

Brighter days to come for impressive mare

While Shishkin got the 'Performance of the Week' gong, there was an honourable mention for Gordon Elliott's mare Brighterdaysahead – or at least there might have been had Johnny recalled the name correctly!

He may not have got the name spot on, but the winning performance in a Gowran Park bumper on Saturday certainly left a mark on the Racing Post pundit.

She won by an easy 13-lengths under Harry Swan in the Gigginstown silks and, according to Johnny, there's a Grade 2 mares' bumper at Aintree that she looks tailor-made for.

"She's a half-sister to Mighty Potter and French Dynamite. Harry Swan rode and it won in a walk," Johnny added. "You wouldn't see (jockeys) looking round them too often coming up the straight in Gowran.

"If she goes for the mares' bumper in Aintree, I'd say she'd be under 2/1 in my eyes, I was hugely impressed by that animal."

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Brides set for big day at Thurles

The team also looked ahead to some of the action across the coming days, including Kempton on Saturday but, before that, Thurles on Thursday afternoon where the Colreevy Mares Novice Chase (1.55) is the opening contest.

Telmesomethinggirl for Henry De Bromhead and Instit for Willie Mullins are likely to head the betting as they renew an old rivalry, but neither gets the nod from the Upping The Ante duo on this occasions.

With €18,000 on offer to the winner, the race has attracted a field of seven mares and both DJ and Johnny like the chances of Brides Hill for Gavin Cromwell.

"Telmesomethinggirl nearly fell at the second last in Naas and Instit still couldn't hold her off," began Johnny. "I thought that was a scandalous effort out of Instit.

"I won't be backing that in any decent company again anyway.

"Brides Hill has three good runs after her fall in Fairyhouse in October, I'd nearly call them prep runs. I think this is her day. I'd fancy her to beat Telmesomethinggirl and I wouldn't have Instit on my mind at all."

Ballyburn impresses with turn of foot

Johnny's case for Kim Muir hope Stumptown was made earlier in the show and he became the latest ante-post selection for the Cheltenham Festival with now just a little over three weeks to go.

DJ, meanwhile, added Ballyburn at 10/1 in the Champion Bumper after watching the latest impressive recruit from the Willie Mullins stable showcase his stuff at Punchestown on Sunday.

"I have to say I was very impressed by him," said the Racing Post pundit. "Visually, you mightn't have been as blown as by It's For Me at Navan and Fun Fun Fun at the Dublin Racing Festival, but I thought there was so much substance to this effort.

"I thought turning in, of the three principles, he looked beaten after being really keen early on. What he did from the furlong-pole to the line - and what he'd have done if there was another furlong to run - was seriously impressive to me.

"I thought he did remarkably well to win and to me, this was the most impressed I've been with a Mullins bumper horse this season."

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