“Brace Yourself!” said Leonardo di Caprio to Kate Winslet in the film Titanic (when the iceberg hit, tut tut), and the Noel Meade-trained gelding of the same name was worth a few pause-play-rewinds himself when winning at Down Royal last month, looking a graded-calibre novice in the process.
He would have been a contender in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at 13:05, but, while he hasn’t stood his ground at the 48-hour stage, he’s one to follow closely wherever he turns up next.
This race is usually the Willie Mullins Show, though, with Hurricane Fly starting a sequence of six wins in nine renewals when winning the race in 2008.
It’s not always easy to work out which horse is the yard’s leading hope, but while Aramon comprehensively beat Quick Grabim at Navan last time, the last-named made a bad mistake when just getting into his stride and is fancied to reverse the form here on 7 lb better terms.
Gordon Elliott won this race last year with subsequent Supreme Novices’ third Mengli Khan and the yard’s Commander of Fleet is a big player.
He looked very exciting when taking victory in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper at Punchestown in April and made an equally strong impression when winning his hurdling debut back there earlier this month.
Having cost just three pieces of hand baggage on Ryanair (€47,000) as a three-year-old, he may turn out to be one of the best bargains of recent years. Relatively speaking.
The following Drinmore Novice Chase, due off at 13:35, has been shared out more equally.
Jeff Beck was ranked fifth in Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”, and Blow By Blow, who may or may not be named after his second solo album, is expected to give a good account of himself, along with stablemate Delta Work.
Our Preference, though, is for Le Richebourg who looks like making up into a much better chaser than he was a hurdler, certainly judging by two near foot-perfect efforts over fences so far.
Cadmium is a chemical element with symbol Cd, so it wouldn’t be a big surprise if he got back on the up here, now stepped up in trip back at a track where he won in February.
Like a squirrel tucking away nuts for the winter, Apple’s Jade has made the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle (14:40) her own in recent seasons, and she warmed up for Sunday’s race in the same manner as last year when landing the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan last time.
She wasn’t at her best towards the end of last season, a beaten favourite at both the Cheltenham and Punchstown festivals, but she’s likely to be off for her life here.
Having said that, the task could be tougher this season, with Sunday’s race looking a much higher quality renewal on paper. Last year’s third Supasundae is back for another crack, but may need the run as he appeared to 12 months ago, so a bigger threat is Limini.
She was third to Apple’s Jade at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival and should be primed for a big run here, having blown away the cobwebs with two runs on the Flat this winter.
Timeform’s treble for Sunday: Quick Grabim, Le Richebourg, Apple’s Jade