Francin was a disappointment on his return from a near-two-year absence here in November, finishing only sixth despite being sent off favourite, but he took a big step forward when third at Leopardstown last time.
That was a strong race at Leopardstown as the winner has since finished runner-up in a Grade 1, while the second and fourth both bolted up next time. Francin did not completely convince with his jumping last time, so has scope for improvement in that department, but he is a talented performer and looks to have been found a good opportunity.
Molly Ollys Wishes had been shaping with promise, threatening to win a race, and she duly took a step forward to get off the mark at Warwick last month. She was upped in trip in a slowly-run race and she had too many gears for her rivals, impressing with how strongly she travelled and accurately she jumped.
She needed only a hands-and-heels ride to prevail, suggesting there was plenty in the tank, and she looks to have obvious claims. Flow Away lost her unbeaten record over hurdles when only third in a listed race last time, but she had shown a good attitude to win twice previously and is considered the main danger.
So Near So Farhh was a fairly useful stayer on the Flat and got off the mark on her handicap hurdle debut at Down Royal last time. She did well to win at Down Royal as she was briefly short of room when approaching the second-last but stayed on strongly to lead inside the final 100 yards.
Stamina was her greatest asset on the Flat so this step up in trip could lead to an improved performance. Adam Short, who was aboard last time, retains the partnership.