Blackbow failed to land the odds on his hurdles debut at Naas, but it was an encouraging performance nonetheless – particularly bearing in mind that he was returning from an 18-month absence. He was smart in bumpers a couple of seasons back and should prove hard to beat here for his leading yard. Sizing Pottsie raised his game when third at Punchestown recently and looks the biggest danger to him.
It was hard not to be impressed by the way Andy Dufresne went about his business when making a winning hurdles debut over C&D in November. A smart winner of his sole start in bumpers, he is expected to take high rank amongst the novice hurdlers this season, and can take this step up in class in his stride. Stablemate Conflated progressed when landing a big-field Fairyhouse maiden recently, but Sixshooter, who arguably possess the greater scope for improvement, is preferred for forecast purposes.
This looks a cracking handicap hurdle and Drumacoo, who was a smart novice chaser in his pomp, makes each-way appeal from his hurdles mark. He turned in his best effort for quite some time when runner-up at Fairyhouse last time, and would have given the winner plenty to think about had he not made a mistake at the last (rider lost his irons). The handicapper has raised him 2lb in the weights, but on his best form he appeals as being well handicapped, and Rachael Blackmore now takes over from a 7lb claimer.
The vote goes to Dinny Lacey, who made a promising start to his hurdles career when third over C&D 3 weeks ago and that form looks pretty strong. He travelled well on that occasion, just no match for the principals, who look a couple of smart recruits. French import Et Dite, a Grade 3 bumper winner for Yannick Fertillet, was returning from an absence of more than two years when fourth on his hurdling bow at Naas and she is a much-respected main danger. Run Wild Fred also enters calculations.
An Fraoch Mor, Diamond Turf and Le Tektor all shaped with considerable promise on their respective chase debuts. Preference is for the first-named, who chased home Debuchet at Fairyhouse and should be suited by this step back up in trip. Le Tektor will also appreciate this stiffer test, having finished third over 17f here 3 weeks ago, and may emerge as the main danger.
Shanroe Al C ended last season on a high, winning a trio of handicap hurdles and continued the good work back in this sphere when making a successful reappearance at Tipperary in October. Though hit with a 16lb rise for that, he’s still 3lb lower than for his latest win over hurdles and is likely to prove hard to beat. Final List and Fairly Legal can do battle for minor honours.
Gordon Elliott holds a strong hand, with Graineyhill and Minella Till Dawn both strong candidates. The latter should build on his encouraging Punchestown reappearance and will be a big threat if responding well to the new headgear, but Graineyhill has been knocking on the door of late and is preferred. Glorious Galway is another to consider, while Wonderoftheworld isn’t without hope either.
Uhtred landed a big-field bumper at Fairyhouse in April and built on that promise when runner-up on return in a Cork maiden hurdle last month. He is marginally preferred to another decent prospect in the shape of Pencilfulloflead, who made the best possible start to his career when scoring at Down Royal. Dewcup, who got the better of Fantasio D’alene at Punchestown, also commands respect.
11:30 Blackbow – 4/7
12:00 Andy Dufresne – 2/5
12:30 Drumacoo – 6/1
13:00 Dinny Lacey – 2/1
13:30 An Fraoch Mor – 11/4
14:05 Shanroe Al C – 7/4
14:35 Graineyhill – 5/2
15:10 Uhtred – 6/4
* All odds correct at time of posting.