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A bumper eight race card at Fairyhouse on Saturday gets underway with a small field of six-runners contesting the the Grade 3 Juvenile Hurdle. Despite giving away weight to his five rivals, TEAHUPOO can remain unbeaten and score again for Gordon Elliott following his course and distance success here last month. The Robcour owned juvenile was perhaps lucky to win on his Irish debut after Youmdor fell at the last when travelling extremely well for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend.
He should appreciate further in time but his experience over hurdles might give him the edge over Tax For Max. The four-year-old runs for Willie Mullins on debut having been purchased by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede for €200,000 at the Arqana Deauville Autumn sale last November. The son of Maxios wears a hood on debut and previously had good form in Germany, finishing fifth in the Grosser Preis Von Bayern in Munich last November.
Paul Townend has decided to ride the half-brother to Tiger Tap Tap with stable-mate Farout the mount of Danny Mullins. The son of Dark Angel is also making an Irish debut over hurdles having raced on the flat in France with Francis-Henri Graffard. Elsewhere, Crassus for Noel Meade and Joseph O’Brien’s Scholastic have plenty of experience having previously landed juvenile hurdles this season at Limerick and Punchestown.
Petit Mouchoir is nicely treated at the weights with the top-rated horse (155) receiving plenty of weight from the returning JASON THE MILITANT in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle. The Gordon Elliott trained 10-year-old finished a good third in the Matheson Hurdle at Christmas before disappointing back at Leopardstown behind Honeysuckle earlier this month. He’s been a great servant over the years but has only managed to get his head in-front five times in 31-career starts, with his latest victory coming over fences in October 2017.
I’m happy to side elsewhere and will take a punt on JASON THE MILITANT despite being off the track since November and carrying top-weight today. This third-place efforts in both the WKD and Morgiana Hurdles earlier this season read well enough and the form of the Henry de Bromhead stable is fantastic at present (36% strike-rate) with five winners from 14 runners over the past two weeks. The seven year old has previously raced well fresh having won a flat maiden here at Fairyhouse last October following an eight-month break.
Darasso wears blinkers for the first-time and has good form in the book over both hurdles and fences for Joseph O’Brien. The eight-year-old won this race in 2019 and drops down in trip and returns quickly following his third in the Boyne Hurdle last Sunday. Sixshooter is another dropping in trip having finished third in the Lismullen and Galmoy Hurdles for Noel Meade and Michael and Eddie O’Leary.
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There are five declared runners for the feature Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse with the entire field using this race as a stepping stone towards a possible run in the Aintree Grand National in April. Anibale Fly, fourth and fifth in the 2018 and 2019 editions of the Liverpool showpiece will clearly need the run for Tony Martin having not been seen since finishing third over hurdles at Naas last March.
The Long Mile is also owned by J.P McManus but looks an interesting runner despite hoping to find plenty with his rivals on ratings. The seven-year-old is stepping up in trip for Philip Dempsey and has done well over fences so far with four-wins from 10-career starts. Tout Est Permis has had a busy season already and returns here having been pulled up in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park, with ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS finished fifth for Willie Mullins.
The Closutton team have won this race a record 10 times since success with Hedgehunter in 2005 and also run BURROWS STAINT against the defending champion today. Despite receiving weight from his stable-mate and being the choice of Paul Townend, the eight-year-old has not been seen over fences since December 2019 and might need the match practice before Aintree. ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS has only raced twice this campaign and hopefully Danny Mullins can give him a Kemboy type ride to dominate from the front and score in the feature.
Ferny Hollow managed to win this bumper last year for Willie Mullins before going on to land the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in March. Glengouly makes his long-awaited debut for the Closutton team under rules having won a point-to-point at Loughrea for Pat Doyle in October last year. Mullins knows the family well having previously trained several good horses which were transferred to him from the Doyle family, including Bacardys and Asterion Forlonge.
The betting market will prove the best guide to his chance under Patrick Mullins, while Gracchus De Balme is another interesting contender from the point-to-point scene. The son of Manbolix hears a hood on debut for Joseph O’Brien having scored for Kieran Purcell at Lisronagh last November. Elsewhere, the Stuart Crawford trained duo, Donaire and O’Toole race on debut, while Part Time Farmer has previous experience for Noel Meade having been placed twice in bumpers last year.
PREVARICATE gets the verdict in the lucky last with Jamie Codd in the saddle for Gordon Elliott on the son of Fame And Glory. The Elliott team has a good record in this race, having won this bumper three times in the past four years. This horse could represent some extra-value against the Mullins newcomer following his good second on debut at Down Royal before Christmas. That experience should prove crucial in another clash between the two most powerful stables in Irish racing.
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