13:20 Nathaniel Lacy and Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle – 2M 6 F

This Grade 1 Novice Hurdle is known as the ‘Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle’.

The race is open to runners aged five or older who started the season as novices over hurdles with it run over a trip of two miles and six furlongs.

The race first run in 1999 with the original title being in dedication to Golden Cygnet, a former Edward O’Grady runner.

It was previously run over two-and-a-half miles and was given Grade 3 status in 2003, upgraded to Grade 2 in 2008 and then upgraded again in 2018 to Grade 1.

Listed below are the Novice Hurdle winners from the last 10 renewals of this race. Each row details the year of the race, the horse that won along with the age & weight of the horse.

The trainer of the horse at the time of winning the race as well as the jockey is also displayed along with the starting price the horse was sent off.

The leading trainer in this Novice Hurdle over the last 20 renewals is Willie Mullins who has won the race eight times with those eight winners coming from Boston Bob (2012), Pont Alexandre (2013), Sure Reef (2014), Outlander (2015), A Toi Phil (2016), Lets Dance (2017), Gaillard Du Mesnil (2021) and Minella Cocooner (2022).

The only other trainer to have recorded multiple wins in this Novices’ Hurdle is Mrs John Harrington (2 wins).

2024 Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle Contenders

Dancing City – Willie Mullins

Dancing City Was a disappointing fifth on his hurdling debut at Navan where he was firmly put in his place by the re-opposing Stellar Story.

He obviously learned a lot from that run as he made no such mistake over the same course and distance next time out where he beat Nas Na Riogh by a little over four lengths.

The form of that win is already producing results with the likes of Slanagaibhgolier winning at Punchestown next time out and the likes of Nas Na Riogh, Park The Giant and Find A Fortune all being placed on their subsequent starts.

Whilst not the leading light for his stable here based on jockey bookings, he may well improve for a step up in trip and he could well provide a shock for a yard that has won this on multiple occasion in the past.

I Will Be Baie – Willie Mullins

I Will Be Baie has only made four appearances on the racetrack and was last seen winning at Fairyhouse on New Years’ Day.

On that occasion he saw off the attentions of My Trump Card, who has subsequently come out to give the form boost by winning at Navan.

Given that there should be more to come in this sphere from the six-year-old grey gelding, he has to command respect.

He has won on good/yielding and heavy ground in the past, so any further rain would appear to enhance his chances.

Paul Townend has opted to ride Predators Gold instead which is a bit of a negative, but it would be completely foolish to write him off on that basis.

He represents a top class yard and no surprise to see him go well.

Loughglynn – Willie Mullins

Loughglynn is a little more experienced than some here and is undefeated since goin hurdling.

He was an unconsidered 33/1 shot for the Champion Bumper last season and finished in the midfield.

Since switching to this sphere and making the most of a 246 day break, he has found bundles of improvement.

He won on his seasonal reappearance and put some ten lengths between himself and Native Speaker at Punchestown back in November.

Upped in trip next time, he faced tougher opposition in a Grade 2 contest. Again he ran a near perfect race.

He did make a blemish at the last which almost cost him, but he had enough in hand to see off the attentions of the re-opposing Stellar Story.

He at least stays this far, but has never won going this way around.

A third jockey change in a row is usually a concern, but Paddy Mullins won on him in a bumper previously. Likely to give a bold account and remains unexposed.

Predators Gold – Willie Mullins

Predators Gold seemed to meet his match when upped to this level for the first time at this track back in December.

Caldwell Potter was six lengths too good for the five-year-old son of Masked Marvel. Whether it was the combination of a change of jockey and a drop back in trip that saw him underperform remains to be seen.

Paul Townend clearly retains the faith in him though as he jumps back on board since they combined to win at Punchestown back in November.

He is unproven at this trip though and that too could be a concern, as is the fact that five of the last seven winners of this race all won last time out.

He has to be respected hailing from a top yard but could well be vulnerable to less exposed types.

Stellar Story – Gordon Elliott

Stellar Story is beginning to look a little exposed compared with a few of these.

He has bumped into at least one too good on the last couple of occasions that he has run including Loughglynn last time out.

Gordon Elliott has reached for some first time cheek-pieces as he bids to gain a first success in this race since Commander In Fleet back in 2017.

He really struggled to quicken in that Grade 2 race last time, so the step up to Grade 1 company may not work in his favour.

Willie Mullins knows that form inside out and looks to have all bases covered in order to deny him.

This would be the stable’s strongest event if history is anything to go by and this race looks a little beyond him given the unexposed nature of so many others.

Jetara – Mrs Jessica Harrington

Jetara has run well on both of her previous visits to this track. Most notably when winning a Grade 3 Mares Hurdle here back in December.

She pulled some seven lengths clear of Pink In The Park and the well regarded Risk Belle over the course last time out, hinting that there was much better to come.

Jessica Harrington has a good record in this race and has won it twice previously, so she knows the calibre of what it takes to win it.

Jetara is the only mare in the line-up and as a consequence receives seven pounds from her male counterparts.

That could make all the difference in what is a particularly competitive event.

Conclusion

Jetara could well be the pick here with a lot going in her favour including the weight she receives from the rest of the field.

She comes here in search of a four-timer having progressed to win a Grade 3 last time out. Jessica Harrington has a formidable record in the race and the booking of Rachael Blackmore certainly catches the eye.

There does not seem to be a lot between the Mullins’ runners and the fact that Paul Townend prefers Predators Gold to Loughglynn mystifies the situation even more especially as he is the only proven winner at the trip.

On soft ground Jetara could well just get away from them and land a valuable prize for her connections.

14:25 Irish Arkle Novices’ Chase – 2M 1 F

Having first been run back in 1956, the Irish Arkle Novice Chase has been run every year since except for 1970.

The race is a chase run over two miles and one furlong at Leopardstown racecourse

Open to novice chases where they have to contend with eleven fences throughout the race, the race is better known as the ‘Irish Arkle’ and some runners, for example, Footpad in 2018 went on to win the British equivalent, the Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham festival.

Listed below are the Irish Arkle winners from the last 10 renewals. Each row details the year of the race, the horse that won along with the age & weight of the horse.

The trainer of the horse at the time of winning the Irish Arkle as well as the jockey is also displayed along with the starting price the horse was sent off.

The leading trainer in the Irish Arkle Novice Chase over the last 20 renewals is Willie Mullins who has won the race eight times.

Those eight winners were Missed That (2006), Golden Silver (2009), Un De Sceaux (2015), Douvan (2016), Footpad (2018), Energumene (2021), Blue Lord (2022) and El Fabiolo (2023).

2024 Irish Arkle Contenders

Facile Vega – Willie Mullins

Facile Vega is on a recovery mission having finished last of four over this course and distance on Boxing Day when beaten by the re-opposing Found A Fifty in the Racing Post Novices’ Chase.

There were more than six lengths separating them on that occasion, but the run was far too bad to be true.

He was backed as though defeat was out of the question on that occasion and ultimately found very little when asked to do so by Paul Townend.

Willie Mullins has such a fantastic record in this race though and it would be foolish to think he could not reverse form with the Gordon Elliott representative.

He has enjoyed plenty of success at this track in the past and has won over the trip on four separate occasions.

He does have three lengths to find with Marine Nationale based on their encounter in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last season but this is their first clash over the larger obstacles.

It is still too early to write him off despite that disappointing run last time and he could well go closer this time round.

Found A Fifty – Gordon Elliott

Found A Fifty is two from three over fences this season, including when winning the Racing Post Novices’ Chase over the course and distance last time out.

The six-year-old had too much in reserve and saw off the attentions of My Mate Mozzie by around a half-length. Facile Vega was a further five lengths behind and delivered a lacklustre run on that occasion.

The ground at the time of writing is yielding to soft and the last time that Found A Fifty raced on anything like this, he was beaten over twenty lengths.

That is something to bear in mind if considering him for this. He does stay quite a bit further than this extended two miles.

Although he has won on what was his only start at this track, he is only one from three at this two mile trip. He has improved for going over fences and it remains to be seen if he can continue on an upward curve.

Il Etait Temps – Willie Mullins

Il Etait Temps won at this meeting last year taking the Tattersalls Novice Hurdle by almost ten lengths from Inthepocket.

He had fair enough runs at Cheltenham and Punchestown subsequently before it was decided that he would change tack and go chasing.

The season started well and he won on his seasonal reappearance at Thurles over two-and-a-quarter miles.

He then upped in grade against his superstar of a stablemate in Gaelic Warrior at Limerick in a Grade 1 Faugheen Novices’ Chase.

Running as well as could be expected behind his better fancied stable colleague, he will have learned plenty along the way.

He was too good for Facile Vega over hurdles at this meeting last year and could prove that once more over fences.

As a result he could well be the forgotten horse and could well be overpriced here.

Marine Nationale – Barry Connell

Marine Nationale made it six wins from six starts when making a winning debut over fences over this course and distance back in December.

He had over eight lengths in hand of Firm Footings in what was an impressive display of front-running. His rivals just could not get to the Barry Connell trained runner and he turned them all away one by one.

The competition this afternoon looks a little bit stronger, but he comes here with an unblemished record in bumpers and hurdles.

With his already impressive first win over fences, he is taken to continue progressing. All of his rivals here have been beaten on multiple occasions, whereas he has offered no signs of distress when pressure has been applied.

He looks a star in the making and should cement his prominence at the top of the Arkle Chase market for next month’s Cheltenham Festival by taking this.

Senecia – Vincent Halley

Senecia won on his chasing debut at Ballinrobe at the beginning of last summer getting the better of Hercule De Seuill by just over a length.

Since then he has been tried in lesser company than what he is facing today and has been soundly beaten on both occasions.

The reversion back to two miles and hurdles did not work last time as he was pulled up by Philip Enright in a handicap hurdle at Thurles.

This is very much a step into the unknown and he looks sure to struggle against these proven Grade1 winners.

Given that disappointing effort last time out, there have to be serious concerns about him even seeing out this race. He will be seen to much better effect when his sights are lowered and when raised back up in trip.

Sharjah – Willie Mullins

Sharjah is a useful yardstick and he has proven on multiple occasions over hurdles that he is not just a back number at the Willie Mullins’ yard. He only started his chasing career last August and it wasn’t too long before he carried home a Grade 3 novices’ chase at Tipperary.

Since being upped to the highest level he has become a little more exposed. Younger and more fresher rivals have easily swept him aside, including the re-opposing Found A Fifty who beat him here last time out. He looks a little out of his depth against those types of rivals yet again

Conclusion

Marine Nationale appears to have this division at his mercy for the time being. He has barely turned a hair in his six races to date and has always been the apple of Barry Connell’s eye.

The competition that he faces here has edged up a level and with Willie Mullins lining up his trio in opposition, the improving six-year-old will face his stiffest test to date.

Facile Vega if back to his best would go close but even at that Marine Nationale beat him fair and square in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last year.

Il Etait Temps should not be underestimated and is surely worth a go in a betting market without the favourite. He won as he liked at this meeting last year and could go well again.

Irish Gold Cup 2024

For a full run down of the Irish Gold Cup 2024, check out our preview here.

Dublin Racing Festival – Day 2 – February 4th 2024

Ladbrokes Novice Chase

The Dr P. J. Moriarty Novice Chase, currently known for sponsorship purposes as the Ladbrokes Novice Chase, is a Grade 1 National Hunt steeplechase which is open to horses aged five years or older.

It is run over a distance of about 2 miles and 5 furlongs (4,225 metres), and during its running there are fourteen fences to be jumped. The race is for novice chasers.

The first version of the race was established in 1989, and during its early years the event was known by various titles.

The name of Dr P. J. Moriarty Novice Chase (initially including the word “Memorial”) was introduced in 1998, at which time the race was classed at Grade 2 level.

It was promoted to Grade 1 status in 2002. Since 2015 the race has been sponsored by Flogas Ireland Ltd and run for the Dr P. J. Moriarty Trophy.

Winners of the event sometimes go on to compete in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase in March.

Four horses have achieved victory in both races including Florida Pearl (1998), Cooldine (2009), Bostons Angel (2011) and Monkfish (2021).

The Willie Mullins-trained Faugheen became the oldest winner of the race in 2020, and went on to finish third in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.

Listed below are the Ladbrokes Novice Hurdle winners from the last 10 renewals of the race.

Each row details the year of the race, the horse that won along with the age & weight of the horse. The trainer of the horse at the time of winning the race as well as the jockey is also displayed along with the starting price the horse was sent off.

The leading trainer in the Ladbrokes Novice Chase over the last 20 renewals is Willie Mullins who has won the race nine times with those nine winners coming from Jy Vole (2008), Cooldine (2009), Citizen Vic (2010), Boston Bob (2013), Ballycasey (2014), Outlander (2016), Faugheen (2020), Monkfish (2021) and Galopin Des Champs (2022).

2024 Ladbroke Novices’ Chase Contenders

American Mike – Gordon Elliott

American Mike is one from two over fences but has a lot to do in order to reverse form with Gaelic Warrior last month in the Faugheen Novices’ Chase.

There were 25 lengths between the pair on that occasion and it would take a massive leap of faith to think that anything will change here.

The ground should not be as testing today but he was fully exposed in that last outing, and he may well struggle again here.

Gordon Elliott notched up a notable success here yesterday with Maxxum at a big price, but it would quite an achievement if American Mike were to do the same.

He looks to have it all to do going by the formbook and looks set to play a minor role only.

Fact To File – Willie Mullins

Fact To File has never been out of the first two places when running at Leopardstown and has picked two wins along the way.

He clearly needed his seasonal reappearance when finishing second to American Mike at Navan.

That run came over two-and-a-half miles on soft ground and he clearly benefitted for it as he went on to record a seventeen-length victory here next time out.

Mark Walsh comes in for the ride once more and the pair may well have all the answers.

The form of that last run has already been franked by Minella Cocooner and on what is seemingly his favourite racetrack, Fact To File could well be the one to beat here.

Whilst he was just short of being top class in bumpers, he looks to be on an upward curve over these larger fences and no surprise to see him take this step up in class in his stride.

Found A Fifty – Gordon Elliott

Found A Fifty ran the race of his life when just touched off by Il Etait Temps yesterday in the Irish Arkle when beaten just a neck.

He has only been tried over this trip once before and was found wanting by I Am Maximus. This race is likely to come far too soon for the Gordon Elliott trained runner and he may well struggle as a result.

This novices’ chase is also an extra couple of furlongs further than the trip he tried yesterday. I may well stretch his stamina to its limit and others are preferred more.

Gaelic Warrior – Willie Mullins

Gaelic Warrior had his plans switched at the last minute as he was meant to contest the Irish Arkle Novices’ Chase until the 48-hour stage.

Connections ducked out of a battle with Marine Nationale but ended up winning it anyway with Il Etait Temps.

This is very much plan B and whilst he has the form in the book that would see him put up a dominant performance, he meets a stablemate who is equally as exciting and who is also improving.

Gaelic Warrior has only met with defeat once in the last year and that came at Cheltenham in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

Since making the switch to the larger obstacles, he has gone from strength to strength.

His form could not have been complimented more than when Il Etait Temps won the Irish Arkle yesterday and he for all intents and purposes looks the one that they all have to beat.

Grangeclare West – Willie Mullins

Grangeclare West won in this grade last time out when getting the better of Corbett’s Cross at this track back in December.

That was only his second ever start over fences and he clearly is improving with each run. In what was a strongly contested race, the seven-year-old made rapid progress as the race developed.

He soon raced into a commanding lead and his rivals including Flooring Porter and Favori De Champdou couldn’t keep up.

The step back to two-and-a-half miles shouldn’t pose too many issues for him and what is clear that Willie Mullins really wants to win this race.

His son Paddy comes in for the ride, but it could be significant that Paul Townend prefers the chances of Gaelic Warrior.

Running in the familiar colours of Cheveley Park Stud, Grangeclare West commands respect.

Conclusion

Gaelic Warrior has been nothing but impressive in his runs over fences thus far and he can maintain his unbeaten sequence over them by putting in a power packed performance here.

His stablemates of course rate as the biggest dangers including Fact To File and Grangeclare West.

Fact To File has to prove himself in this grade over fences, whilst the further Grangeclare West went last time out the better he looked.

The drop back in trip whilst not inconvenient, hardly seems to be in his favour.

2024 Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle

The Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle is a Grade 1 hurdle race which is open to horses aged five years or older.

It is run over a distance of about 2 miles and during its running there are nine hurdles to be jumped. The race as it’s name suggests is for novice hurdlers.

The race was established in 1987, and during its early years it was sponsored by Paddy Power and Le Coq Hardi. 

Deloitte supported the event from 1992 to 2017. The race continued as the Deloitte and Touche Novice Hurdle until 2003 and was known as the Deloitte Novice Hurdle from 2004 to 2018.

From 2019 to 2021 the race was sponsored by the Chanelle Pharmaceutical Group and since 2022 it has been sponsored by Tattersalls.

Prior to 2018 it was run over a distance of 2 miles and 2 furlongs.

Winners of the Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle usually go on to compete in either the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle or the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

Those to have also achieved victory in one of those races are Danoli, Istabraq, Like-A-Butterfly, Brave Inca, Champagne Fever, Vautour, Samcro and Appreciate It.

Listed below are the Novice Hurdle winners from the last 10 renewals of the race.

Each row details the year of the race, the horse that won along with the age & weight of the horse.

The trainer of the horse at the time of winning the race as well as the jockey is also displayed along with the starting price the horse was sent off.

The leading trainer in the Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle over the last 20 renewals is Willie Mullins who has won the race ten times with those ten winners coming from Champagne Fever (2013), Vautour (2014), Nichols Canyon (2015), Bleu Et Rouge (2016), Bacardys (2017), Klassical Dream (2019), Asterion Forlonge (2020), Appreciate It (2021), Sir Gerhard (2022) and Il Etait Temps (2023).

2024 Tattersall Ireland Novice Hurdle Contenders

Absurde – Willie Mullins

A globetrotting dual-purpose performer who was very disappointing over this course and distance back in December.

It could well be that the return trip to Australia completely exhausted him and that would explain the decision to pull him up in the Future Champion Novices’ Hurdle.

Now that he has enjoyed the best part of six weeks off, it would be of little surprise to see a much better performance here today.

He will probably reverse form with Fascile Road, but that is where the good news ends. Others are far less exposed in this line up and he needs a drop in grade.

Ballyburn – Willie Mullins

A return to two miles is the only concern that I would have about this progressive six-year-old.

He met with defeat over this trip on his seasonal reappearance at Fairyhouse earlier in the campaign.

When upped in trip by half a mile, he put in a dominating performance to beat Cleatus Poolaw by twenty-five lengths. The form of that win was recently well advertised by the runner up as he won his next race.

Willie Mullins is likely to know what he is doing though having saddled ten of the last eleven winners of this race.

Ballyburn is the choice of Paul Townend and again that choice must be respected. He will be fully at home with these underfoot conditions and must be high on any shortlist this afternoon.

Boher Road – John Fahey

Boher Road won a maiden hurdle at Wexford back in September but was then beaten out of sight on his next appearance.

He has been given a near five-month break since, but he will need to produce a career best effort in order to get involved here.

He was also a multiple winner on the flat picking up races at The Curragh and at Navan at trips up to ten furlongs.

This looks a near impossible task against rivals who have far more experience in better company, and he will find winnable races when downgraded to more suitable company.

Daddy Long Legs – Willie Mullins

A recent recruit to the Mullins yard and he certainly made an impression when seeing off Cleatus Poolaw by over a dozen lengths on what was his debut over hurdles.

He was well fancied to repeat that feat when sent off as favourite for the Future Champion Novices’ Hurdle over this course and distance back in December.

He made a mistake when making a move at a vital stage in the race and then the heavy ground seemed to take its toll.

Any horse can be forgiven for making an error and he remains unexposed despite that defeat last time.

These colours were carried to victory just yesterday when Dancing City won the opening race of the meeting. He could well put that last run behind him and give a bold account here.

Farren Glory – Gordon Elliott

Farren Glory looked sure to be involved in the finish at Ascot last time as he was still travelling strongly when coming to grief three from home in the Formby Novices’ Hurdle.

Prior to that he had won the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse getting the better of a couple of re-opposing rivals in King Of Kingsfield and Fascile Road.

Given that he is at least proven at this level and is still open to any amount of improvement, he commands considerable respect now back on home soil.

Gordon Elliott has his runners in great form and he looks to have a decent chance of ending the Mullins domination of this particular race.

Fascile Road – Tony Mullins

Has proven to be a very frustrating sort and was beaten almost a distance on his most recent appearance.

He won a weak maiden at Punchestown back in the Autumn and the fact that only one horse has won a race from it subsequently speaks volumes.

This looks to be too classy a field and too short of a trip in order for him to be involved and there are others less exposed than him. Best to avoid under all circumstances.

Gold Dancer – Willie Mullins

Gold Dancer makes his debut for Willie Mullins here but he did gain a bit of experience over hurdles in his native France.

He was a winner on bottomless ground at Compiegne at this trip.
He is very much an unknown quantity but not impossible to rule him out given the yard have done so well with similar types in the past.

Danny Mullins rode three winners here yesterday so he will not be lacking in any assistance from the saddle. He is best watched for now but could run a nice race.

Jit Langy – Willie Mullins

Jit Langy won a maiden at Tipperary last spring and has not been seen since. This is a big step up in grade for the JP McManus owned five-year-old.

Plenty of winner have come out of that maiden including the likes of Samui, Dark Note, Aeros Luck and Jeriko De Baune.

He is very much an unknown quantity and his fitness would have to be taken on trust.

He is best watched for today and is likely to find more suitable races in the future.

King Of Kingsfield – Gordon Elliott

Took and eternity to shed his maiden status and finally got off the mark at the fourth attempt last time. That win came over this course and distance when he got the better of Mirazur West back in December.

This is a massive step up in grade though and he has already been beaten by two of his re-opposing rivals here in Farren Glory and Slade Steel.

He seems to be the stable second string here based on jockey bookings and that sounds about right. He will do better in lesser events in time.

Slade Steel – Henry De Bromhead

Slade Steel is an interesting contender having won a Grade 2 at Navan most recently. That was over a half-mile further though so the drop back to two-miles may not be ideal unless plenty of use is made of his proven stamina.

Disappointingly the form of the race has taken a few knocks subsequently and he may just have been the best of a fair bunch.

There looks to be others with stronger credentials in this race and he may well be found out as a consequence.

Conclusion

Ballyburn looks to have plenty going for him here including his trainers’ fantastic record in this race.

He will be fully at home under the conditions and Wille Mullins clearly thinks this reversion to two miles will not be a problem.

The biggest threat looks sure to come from Farren Glory, who was so unlucky to fall at Ascot last time out when in search of a hat-trick of wins.

There are a couple of unknown quantities in here who could also run well including Jit Langy and Gold Dancer.

They could be ones to keep an eye on going forward.

Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle

The Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle is a Grade 1 hurdle race  which is open to horses aged four years or older.

It is run at Leopardstown over a distance of about 2 miles and during its running there are eight hurdles to be jumped.

Established in 1950, it is now one of two Irish races, along with the Punchestown Champion Hurdle, which can be seen as equivalents of the Champion Hurdle in England.

The most recent winner of the Leopardstown version to win the Champion Hurdle in the same season was Honeysuckle in 2022.

The Irish Champion Hurdle was sponsored by AIG Europe from 1993 to 2008, by Toshiba in 2009 and 2010 and by BHP Insurance from 2011 to 2019.

Since 2020, it has been sponsored by PCI and is now part of the Dublin Racing Festival weekend.

Listed below are the Irish Champion Hurdle winners from the last 10 renewals of the race.

Each row details the year of the race, the horse that won along with the age & weight of the horse.

The trainer of the horse at the time of winning the race as well as the jockey is also displayed along with the starting price the horse was sent off.

The leading trainer in the Irish Champion Hurdle over the last 20 renewals is Willie Mulins who has won the race seven times with those seven winners coming from Hurricane Fly (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015), Faugheen (2016) and State Man (2023).

The only other trainer to have recorded multiple wins in the Irish Champion Hurdle is Henry De Bromhead (5 wins).

2024 Chanelle Pharma Champion Hurdle Contenders

BOB OLINGER – Henry De Bromhead

Bob Olinger absolutely loves testing ground and has shown he is back to somewhere near his best by winning his last two races at Navan and Cheltenham.

He was held up in last place in the Relkeel Hurdle before reeling in his rivals one by one under the guidance of Rachael Blackmore.

With three Willie Mullins runners in here, he will hope that there is a strong pace to aim at.

He has only had one previous run at this track and ultimately, he was beaten by the re-opposing Echoes In Rain.

That was at a time when the stable was under a cloud though, so no surprise to see that form reversed now that he is back in form.

Rachael Blackmore is doing the steering once more and a big run could well be on the cards. This is a first attempt at this two-mile trip for the pair and they could well be a big threat.

FILS D’OUDAIRIES – Gordon Elliott

Fils D’Oudairies looks to have an impossible task on here. He has faced State Man twice already this season and did worse against him on their most recent run than on the first.

Beaten twenty-two lengths over this course and distance when last seen at Christmas finishing last of four in the Matheson Hurdle.

He has never won outside of Grade 3 company, so it is difficult to see him doing it for the first time in a race as hot as this.

He also prefers ground that is not too testing and again that looks unlikely here. He looks completely out of his depth.

IMPAIRE ET PASSE – Willie Mullins

Impaire Et Passe was dropped to this trip for the first time and got to within three lengths of his stablemate, State Man over this course and distance last time out.

He is far from exposed having only had six career starts and it is worth remembering that he is a multiple grade one winning hurdler.

Last season he romped home in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle as well as the Champion Novices’ Hurdle at Punchestown.

Cheltenham is likely to be his aim again and this will at least get some air into his lungs in preparation for that.

He can be prone to making the odd error, but if putting in a good round of jumping, he should not be that far away once more.

Should State Man fail to give his true running, this highly rated six-year-old will be there to pick up the pieces.

STATE MAN – Willie Mullins

State Man has been beaten only once in his last nine races and that was against the enigma that is Constitution Hill.

He has seen off a couple of re-opposing rivals in separate races so far this season and they are his stablemates Echoes In Rain as well as Impaire Et Passe.

There is no obvious reason that they should reverse the form, but as we all know anything can happen in racing.

State Man loves to get his toe into the soft ground, so conditions should be ideal, and he is a three-time course and distance winner.

He is the highest rated of these and knows every blade of grass around this track.

Paul Townend has chosen him over his stablemates and the pair look set to have a good prep run for Cheltenham next month.

ECHOES IN RAIN – Willie Mullins

Echoes In Rain is the only mare in today’s line-up. Although she is set to receive weight from her male counterparts, she has be in this position multiple times before without being able to take full advantage.

She has been well beaten on both starts so far this season and it would take a leap of faith to suggest that she could reverse recent form with State Man.

She has had plenty of runs so far this year too and may well just be feeling the effects of that.

She did manage to win a Grade 1 at the Punchestown Festival last year but that came over an extra half mile.

It is possible that this trip is far too short for her these days and she need to go back up in distance in order to make her presence felt,

Conclusion

State Man really sets the standard here as he is a multiple course and distance winner.

He is fully at home at this level on has only met with defeat once in his last nine starts.

He comes here in order to defend his crown and if putting it altogether, a repeat victory looks to be on the cards.

Impaire Et Passe and Echoes In Rain seem to need longer trips and it could well be that Bob Olinger presents himself as the main threat over this trip that he has never tried before, provided there is plenty of pace on.

Henry De Bromhead’s nine-year old has been in great form so far this season and could well prove to be the best of the rest.