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The 2m juvenile hurdle gets the Gowran Park card underway on Friday, where YOUMDOR catches the eye on debut for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend. The French import was purchased privately by the McNeill family who have decided to further enhance their support in Irish racing and team-up with the Closutton team for the first time.
The son of Youmzain managed two victories from eight career starts on the level in France and looks the type to develop nicely over hurdles this season. Mullins previously won this race with Diakali (2012) and Footpad (2015), so hopefully Youmdor can shine on debut against several rivals with previous hurling experience.
Champion bumper winner FERNY HOLLOW makes his hurling debut for Willie Mullins and the Cheveley Park team in this 2m maiden hurdle. The form of his Cheltenham success has worked out well with several horses boosting the form with wins in recent months, including The Glancing Queen for Alan King earlier this week on Wednesday.
The testing conditions won’t be a problem, with the classy five-year-old winning his point-to-point on soft ground at Knockanard for Colin Bowe and a heavy ground bumper for Mullins at Fairyhouse last February. Despite the big field, Mullins has found a good opportunity for Ferny Hollow to win on return with little strength in depth among the opposition.
Bob Olinger is the only danger for Henry de Bromhead following his sole rules run and victory in a bumper here last March. The form of that race took a slight knock on Sunday when Coqolino was a late faller when fading and beaten by Fighter Allen at Punchestown.
The Willie Mullins and Paul Townend show should continue with the nicely bred French import GALOPIN DES CHAMPS securing victory in this novice hurdle on his Irish debut. The son of Timos was impressive on debut despite racing very wide when winning his only start at Auteuil on very soft ground in May.
The inclusion of eye-catching future entries, including the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse could suggest this four-year-old has enough class to win on his Irish debut. Mullins won this race five times in the last eight-years (including with Douvan in 2014), which should further boost your confidence in backing Galopin Des Champs on Friday.
Mighty Blue has very nice form for Joseph O’Brien from the flat and warrants serious respect, while Arthur Moore’s Sea Ducor returns having finished behind Aspire Tower at Punchestown this time last year.
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COKO BEACH did well over hurdles for Gigginstown and Gordon Elliott with several good efforts in graded company, including his second in the WKD hurdle at Down Royal last year. He certainly wasn’t disgraced on his chasing debut at Galway, were stablemate Pencilfulloflead just stayed on better for victory at Ballybrit in a closing furlong battle.
The form of that race was boosted last weekend when Pencilfulloflead got the better of Latest Exhibition in the Florida Pearl Novice Chase. Elsewhere, Speak Easy won’t reverse the form with our selection barring an accident having been well beaten at Galway, while Energumene and Fakir look interesting recruits to fences for Willie Mullins and Joseph O’Brien.
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