Oak Park shaped well when finishing third on his hurdles debut and first start for this yard here on New Year’s Eve. He was hampered at the third-last but kept on in encouraging style in the straight without being able to throw down a meaningful challenge, and he is expected to improve, bearing in mind the fairly useful form he showed on the Flat in France.
Dawson’s Cottage shaped with promise to finish runner-up here on his handicap debut in October but then failed to meet expectations when well backed to get off the mark at Fairyhouse in November. He’s lightly raced and holds strong claims based on his penultimate outing, so is worth another chance. Magic Sea showed improved form to get off the mark at Down Royal last month and is considered the biggest danger.
Column of Fire was a useful performer in bumpers and was in the process of running his best race over hurdles at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day but fell at the second-last. He would have gone close on that occasion and looks to have been found a good opportunity to make amends. Friary Rock has shaped with promise on all three starts over hurdles and is the main threat.
Domitian showed ability in bumpers, finishing runner-up at Tipperary and then winning at Clonmel, and she has made an encouraging start over hurdles to reach the frame on both outings. She stayed on well to finish third at Thurles last time and looks like she has more to offer for trainer Gordon Elliott.
Marshalled was fortunate to come out on top at Clonmel last month as he looked set to finish runner-up before the leader fell at the second-last. However, even had he not won it would still have been an encouraging handicap debut, well in advance of the form he had shown in maidens. He remains open to plenty of improvement having raced on just four occasions and should be suited by this step up in trip.
Howaya Aoife had been progressing well prior to falling at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day and should go close if none the worse for that exit. She won here in November, finding plenty under pressure to get up close home, and then produced an even better effort in defeat at Fairyhouse to finish runner-up, showing she remains on a fair mark.
Dreamingandhoping disappointed at Limerick but she had finished runner-up in a listed bumper on debut and that form is the best on offer. She will prove tough to beat if bouncing back from her Limerick flop.