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Willie Mullins runs a really nice one in this one called MIRCO MANAGE, who was a high-class horse on the Flat. He’s schooled really well and looks to be in very good shape. Patrick Mullins rides him, and he likes to get on with the job. He’ll be up there all the way and this horse jumps like a buck. Touch wood he can get the day off to a really good start for everyone.
Willie is doubly represented in this contest by our selection EL BARRA and M C Muldoon, who Jackie Mullins owns and Patrick Mullins rides him. It’s just so long since M C Muldoon ran and that makes it hard fancy him – even if we do think he’s a really good horse.
There is plenty in this race with chance though. Shark Hanlon’s Hallowed Star will have one for sure, as will Henry de Bromhead’s Decimation with Rachael Blackmore onboard. El Barra was a really good winner of a bumper at Thurles last month and he’s probably the one to side with. Wide Reciever has had a couple of chances to win in the last year and hasn’t got there.
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We like Ha’Dor and we believe Saint Sam is a fair horse too. But, ZANAHIYR was just mind-blowing at Fairyhouse at the end of last month. I’ll be very surprised if anyone of these can get near him.
SHADOW RIDER ran really well in Navan at the end of November, even though he was beaten by Ashdale Bob (who has followed up since in a Grade 2) at level weights. But, because he has never won a race, he entitled to an 8lbs allowance in country maiden hurdles – which he avails of here. He only has 11st 6lbs to carry and that makes him ‘well in’ on handicap terms – even though it’s a maiden hurdle.
That should make him hard to beat.
Felix Desjy and Darver Star reoppose from Punchestown last month here, and I don’t see why Darver Star should overturn that form here. BLACKBOW was very good in Navan, while Franco De Port impressed in Thurles.
There is a lot of pace in this race, but tactically it will be fascinating to see how it works out. But, I was taken with Blackbow performance last month and I reckon Felix Desjy is vulnerable.
There are only five runners in this, but you don’t need a big field to have a great race. You only need quality and all five entered here are pretty good horses. But, I’m firmly in the ASTERION FORLONGE camp. Going right-handed will really suit him, he’s a good jumper and he was the best of these as a novice hurdler. I reckon he can pick up the win.
COOL JET is a getaway gelding, who goes really well at home. He has plenty of work done going into this. I know it can be hard when you don’t know the opposition, and there are a few yards entered in this to take note of – especially Lonesome Boatman for Martin Brassil with Declan Lavery riding. If there is money for him, it will certainly be eye-catching.
However, Cool Jet goes well and I’m sticking with him.
12:00 Leopardstown – Mirco Manage
12:30 Leopardstown – El Barra
13:05 Leopardstown – Zanahiyr
13:22 Limerick – Shadow Rider
14:15 Leopardstown – Blackbow
14:35 Limerick – Asterion Forlonge
15:25 Leopardstown – Cool Jet
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