THERE isn't much Ruby Walsh doesn't know about Cheltenham Festival.
The legendary now-retired jockey is the winning-most rider at the racing Olympics with a staggering 59 to his name.
Walsh was top jockey at the Festival 11 times and twice rode seven winners through the week. Another record yet to be touched.
After years of dominating at Prestbury Park in tandem with the likes of Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins, Walsh is now thriving as a pundit.
And the Paddy Power ambassador reckons there might be an upset in the Arkle, where Shishkin is currently a red-hot favourite.
He told the From The Horse's Mouth Podcast he reckons it could prove wise to side with the Mullins-trained Energumene, who runs in the colours of Brighton owner Tony 'The Lizard' Bloom.
He said: "At this early stage I think Shishkin is the best horse in the race but he’s odds on and with Paddy’s non-runner money back offer I’d sooner tale a chance on another, especially as there’s still a couple of decent novices chases to be run.
"I’ll go with Energumene for a bit of value.
"Energumene looks likely to be Willie Mullins No. 1 hope but stablemate Unexpected has an entry at the Dublin Racing Festival in early February.
"Franco De Port doesn’t necessarily scream Arkle winner to me – he may need further – but I could be wrong."
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But Walsh is in the favourite camp for the Marsh Novices' Chase where 'perfect' Envoi Allen is his pick.
He explained: "A relatively new race and the most perfect horse in training – Envoi Allen – is an odds-on shot.
"I said I wouldn’t be backing Shishkin at odds-on in the Arkle, but I’d have no worries on that score for Envoi Allen who won’t be running again before this contest on March 18.
"He’s unbeaten so far in his bumper, hurdles and chasing career, so what’s going to beat him now?"
In the longer three-mile chase, called the Festival Chase for the time being, Walsh sides with another Mullins hotshot he knows well.
Monkfish runs for Rich and Sussanah Ricci and Walsh reckons he's the bet at this stage.
He said: "Monkfish is a very polished chaser already, and he does everything that you would want a horse to do.
"He’s a good jumper, he travels nicely and his times are favourable compared to the Savills Chase at Leopardstown at Christmas. You have to like what he’s done.
"He beat Latest Exhibition in the Albert Bartlett last year and then again in the Neville Hotels Chase. Everything Monkfish does, he seems to do right."
Ruby’s Festival Fancies
Monkfish (Festival Chase) 7-4
Energumene (Arkle) 11-2
Envoi Allen (Marsh) 4-5
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