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AUTUMN EVENING can make a winning debut in this opening juvenile hurdle which kick-starts Hilly Way day at Cork on Sunday. The Jessica Harrington-trained runner ran well without winning in several maidens on the flat and looks the type to win an average looking contest.
His third-place finish in a staying flat-race at Navan behind stablemate Ilmig reads well, with more experienced winning jumpers Jesse Evans and Bridge Native in second and fourth that day. Flying Scotsman needs to improve his jumping following a debut fifth at Punchestown, where he was friendless in the betting and well-beaten for Joseph O’Brien.
Elsewhere, Curious Bride would perhaps like better ground for Noel Meade, while French Aseel is an interesting import for Ellmarie Holden and Toughari could reach the frame if improving from Gowran Park for Tom Mullins.
John Durkan day at Punchestown begins with an intriguing rated novice hurdle with five declared runners, which include SNEAKY GETAWAY for Emmett Mullins. He performed well on the flat, running against Stradivarius at Doncaster and reaching a rating of 101 for connections last year. He’s taken to hurdles well this calendar year with two wins from two starts – which were his maiden victory at Roscommon and a novice hurdle at Fairyhouse last month.
Brian Hayes could once again try to dominate from the front here with the drop down in trip not a concern today. Crosshill and Power Of Pause are two other leading contenders dropping back in distance with Jessica Harrington’s runner impressive on hurling debut at Punchestown, while the Mullins contender takes his chance having beaten little at Clonmel last month.
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Min returns to the track following his Ryanair victory at Cheltenham and is looking to secure a third straight victory in the feature John Durkan Chase. The nine-year-old has been a model of consistency for the Mullins team for many years, but faces a serious battle against some smart younger rivals with recent race fitness this season. Battleoverdoyen and Samcro do battle again following comeback runs at Down Royal for Gordon Elliott, and are lively contenders for sure.
However, CHRIS’S DREAM gets the verdict for Henry de Bromhead following his cracking second to The Storyteller at Down Royal. The drop back in trip looks intriguing, but not a concern following two previous victories at this distance. Elsewhere, progressive Allaho steps out of novice company and might need the outing on return with stablemate Melon back after his defeat to Samcro at Cheltenham.
Despite getting the run of the race when beaten Ragnar Lodbrok here last month and now being 3lbs worse off today, DARRENS HOPE can continue her progression by securing this graded novice hurdle at Cork. The Robert Murphy-trained mare quickened clear nicely when dominating from the front under Paul Townend, who retains the ride on Sunday afternoon.
She has progressed nicely and looks a mare to follow following her course and distance win, along with previous success at Ballinrobe in October. Ragnar Lodbrok will need to be much sharper on the jumping front for Gordon Elliott, with lightly raced Commandingpresence another interesting contender for Henry de Bromhead.
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