Cherokee Bill was yet to be asked for an effort when unseating his rider at Down Royal on Boxing Day. Though he hasn’t been operating at his best of late, the level he has been hitting should be enough for him to land this contest and get off the mark over fences. Iknowwhereiamnow was possibly amiss when pulled up at Leopardstown last time but had been in good form prior, and could be the biggest danger if taking to chasing at the first time of asking.
Carefully Selected made plenty of appeal on paper after making a quick switch to fences – following Grade 1 places in both bumpers and over hurdles. He overcame unfavourable circumstances when all but coming down two from home to make a winning start in this sphere. He was hardly foot-perfect prior to that mistake, but remains open to plenty of improvement over fences and looks the one to here. Last season’s Ballymore winner City Island may have something to say about that.
Well Joey was tried back over hurdles on Boxing Day and got back on track with a third place finish, leaving the impression that he may sharpen up for the run after 11 weeks off.
He looks to have been given a chance by the handicapper on his return to chasing and ought to be capable of getting back to winning ways in a what looks to be a weak race.
A three-time chase winner in France, Cheb De Kerviniou ran well right away on his first outing for Gordon Elliott when a close second at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day.
He travelled as well as any in the race and, though he already has plenty of miles on the clock, looks well up to winning this slightly weaker race, particularly with top amateur Patrick Mullins taking the ride.
Captain Guinness defied a big price to make a successful debut at Navan last month, travelling well throughout and looking a useful prospect, for all that he was left in front at the final fence.
He forged clear from thereon though and is open to plenty of improvement, so gets the vote ahead of the much-touted Andy Dufresne in an intriguing Grade 2.
Bumper winner Fag An Bealach was strong in the betting at Cork last month and produced her best effort to date over hurdles when runner-up to a striking debut winner. She is stepped up in trip on her handicap debut here and, with the promise of more improvement to come, gets the vote to get off the mark in this sphere.
In a race that doesn’t have as much depth as the number of runners might suggest, it is Willie Mullins’s Blackbow that appeals as the most likely winner. He made a promising, if somewhat unspectacular, start to his hurdling career when runner-up at Naas in November and would have gone one better, had he stood up at Navan the following month.
He remains open to improvement and is a confident selection to gain compensation.