Ciaran Murphy takes over the training of BRAWLER from the retired Dot Love and can get off to a winning start in the opening Beginners Chase on Tuesday at Fairyhouse. Despite finishing behind Reine Fee at Down Royal, the six-year-old might appreciate the drop down in trip better than his market rival from the Shane Crawley stable today.
Brawler raced handy under Conor Orr at Down Royal, having to settle for another third-place finish over fences with Reine Fee staying on better to grab second close home. Brawler won here at Fairyhouse over hurdles and was previously successful on heavy ground in France for Andre Fabre. Elsewhere, Duc D’Allier returns after a break of 949 days for Joseph O’Brien in what looks a below average affair to start off the action on Tuesday.
The inclusion of the DREAL DEAL makes this conditions hurdle an interesting affair despite a small field of five-runners declared. The six-year-old was one of the talking horses over the autumn having secured five straight victories between September and November on the level and over hurdles. His opening victory over hurdles came at Navan off an official rating of 84, before further wins over rules at Punchestown (106) and Cork (111).
Paul Townend takes the ride off a rating of 141 against some interesting rivals in the shape of Sizing Pottsie and Percy Warner. Sizing Pottside remains a maiden over hurdles despite decent form over fences, while Percy Warner looks a progressive type following his point to point win at Umma House and his victory over hurdles at Navan. However, Ronan McNally has found a good opportunity for another success with the Dreal Deal who returns from a break and has more to offer over hurdles from what we saw at Cork in early November.
The first of two maiden hurdles over 2-miles 4-furlongs is solely for mares and looks a wide-open affair with plenty in with chances today. AN TAIBHSE is my tentative selection with the hope of improvement from her debut third at Limerick in early December for Henry de Bromhead. She travelled in mid-division and despite been well beaten by the first two horses’ home, she learned a lot when staying on nicely to claim third place.
Kilbree Warrior also finished third at Limerick when last seen and wasn’t a bad fifth previously behind Ashdale Bob at Navan in November. Cathmart Desjy and Say Goodbye were third and fourth in a bumper here in mid-December and come into the mix over hurdles for Joseph O’Brien and Gordon Elliott. Elsewhere, Eyre Square would come into connection also if getting a run with the second reserve running a nice third behind Sayce Gold back here in November.
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The race of the day for me is this 2mile 4-furlong maiden hurdle where Julies Stowaway, Homme D’un Soir, Salt Wind and Fun Light all have serious chances. Julies Stowaway has the best form on offer following his seventh-place finish in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham and was only beaten a ½ length by Blue Lord at Punchestown in November, with Willie Mullins’ winner contesting the Grade 1 at Naas on Wednesday.
If appreciating the extra half-mile, the Mags Mullins runner is surely the horse to beat under Danny Mullins. However, I’ve decided to take a punt on FUN LIGHT for Joseph O’Brien and J.J Slevin following his staying on second behind stable-mate Battle Of Actium at Down Royal.
The lack of race-fitness got him beat on that occasion and came out of a cracking maiden hurdle at Leopardstown the previous Christmas (2019), won by The Bosses Oscar. Elsewhere, Homme D’un Soir is another in the mix following a decent third at Punchestown in early December, while Salt Wind is also on the shortlist following his third-place effort at Navan with the second and fifth winning since to boost the form.
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