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ONE COOL POET was one of the big success stories in 2019, remarkably winning three times on the Flat at the Galway Festival before bagging a valuable prize on Irish Champions Weekend. That staggering improvement since he last ran over hurdles means that he is potentially well handicapped on his return to this sphere.
He advertised his wellbeing at Dundalk last week when beaten less than a length. He can cash in on a favourable mark for Matthew Smith, whose horses have been in excellent form all season.
Wide Receiver and Decimation have some fairly useful form over hurdles, but EL BARRA looked an excellent prospect when winning a Thurles bumper last month and he could prove difficult to beat. El Barra – an expensive purchase after finishing runner-up to Fury Road on his only start in points in 2018 – looked something out of the ordinary on his debut under Rules at Thurles. He scooted 5-and-a-half lengths clear while still hard held on the bridle.
An impressive performance had clearly been expected on his debut for Willie Mullins as he was sent off has a heavy favourite, and his backers would have had few anxious moments as he tanked through the race like something out of the ordinary.
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POPONG has created a positive impression since being sent chasing and looks to have been handed a fair opening mark for her handicap debut. A fairly useful hurdler, Popong was arguably fortunate to get off the mark on her second start over fences at Listowel in September, taking advantage of a rival’s departure at the final fence.
But, she has shown better form in defeat since. She wasn’t beaten far in a Grade 3 novice chase at Punchestown in October and then ran as well as ever to chase home a promising prospect, Colreevy, at the same course last month. She could yet have a bit more to offer in this sphere.
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