McCabe, Moran and Curran are needed in todays racing world!

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With the entire focus of the racing world nearly totally centred on Cheltenham and our star horses and trainers Thurles yesterday saw a couple of noteworthy winners.

Moses McCabe has a small mixed yard in South West Wexford which he has kept going through good and bad days.

McCabe is a fairly handy man and he picked up a nice winner with Davy Russell and Asitsohappens. This 6 year old son of Rudimentary has been ultra consistent and he rallied well under Russell to justify favouritism.

McCabe will place this horse well over the coming months for the Each Way Syndicate.

Robbie Moran has been based in Thurles for a number of years now and the Wexford man very much had a “home” win when steering home Fethard Player for Willie Treacy.

The 7 year old Kings Theatre won his maiden hurdle at 4/1 well having run prominently here three weeks ago.

Moran didn’t have to travel far for this win but he remains one of the most stylish jockeys around and deserves every chance that comes his way.

Alice Curran made the trip from Co Waterford hopeful I would suppose that her 9 year old mare Lisrose would return to form having disappointed at Fairyhouse last time out. Ridden here by Jody McGarvey the daughter of Beneficial managed to win her first chase to add to her hurdle win and 3 previous point to point successes.

Being returned at 16/1 McGarvey did well to win as the mare wandered badly after the last, but if she stays in this form she can win again.

While David Kelly will be hopeful that his bumper winner On Impulse can add to his win here under P A King at 2/1 favourite. This 5 year old son of Flemensfirth does look like an interesting recruit and may get his trainers name in lights with wins like this.

With Oliver Mc Kiernan and Patrick Mangan teaming up with the 6 year old homebred Milan horse Another Challenge to win at 6/1 and Robert Tyner and Philip Enright taking the handicap chase on the 7 year old Oscar horse Knock Beauty at 12/1 all giving them a day in the sun.

When you throw in the mandatory win for Mullins and Walsh racing at Thurles continues to meet a real need.

So well done to all of these winners, especially those from the smaller yards as without them WP Mullins, Ruby Walsh , Gigginstown et al would have no competition.

McCabe, Moran and Curran are a vital ingredient to the continuation of a strong racing industry and long may they continue to prosper as they are needed in todays racing world!

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Chatter wont make Mullins run Un De Sceaux in the Champion!

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With only three weeks to go to Cheltenham and its frantic four day festival last weekends action cast a little more light on the possible line up on those days.

Dunguib for me was the heart warming win of the weekend with the 11 year old striding out to win the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle at Navan. The son of Presenting’s return to winning form on the track is a testament to his trainer Philip Fentons ability.

Well ridden by Brian O’Connell this performance was more than well received by most near everyone.

With a possible tilt at a Coral Cup or County Hurdle suggested it might be best to maybe dampen expectations. These two races are nearly always ultra competitive races and with Dunguib likely to be handed a hefty burden in each I would be leaning towards, well neither in fact and instead look towards some graded races closer to home.Its just that his rivals on Sunday especially Zaidpour wouldnt be a good measure to judge a performance by at present.

When you see that Fenton hadn’t given Dunguib an entry in either the Champion nor World Hurdles at first entry stage it might well question him being pitched into competitive handicaps at this stage of his life. Just a thought!

Foxrock scrambled home in the Grade 2 Ten Up Chase for Ted Walsh , Danny Mullins and Barry Connell with the 6 year old Flemensfirth not helped by a very pedestrian pace. But he battled back and is in my view a much better horse than the bare result here.

His Cheltenham objective must still be the RSA Chase or the old Sun Alliance Chase as it was known if he goes ,rather than the 4 mile National Hunt Chase as I feel he really is a horse for the future and 4 miles at Cheltenham as a 6 year old might not be a best option.

Perhaps they wont travel at all and opt for the Power Gold Cup at Easter at Fairyhouse?

The Cross Country race at the meeting should see the Henry De Bromhead trained Sizing Australia in the line up following a nice fifth place in the Opportunity Hurdle at Navan.This 2011 winner of the same race , now a 12 year old won over hurdles at Wexford in October 2013 and his handicap mark over fences is still intact, so I would pencil in him in as a possibility.

Gowran Park on Saturday last might not have thrown up many possible festival runners with Un De Sceaux a Champion Hurdle possible all but being ruled out of running in that race the day after he won the Grade 2 Red Mills Hurdle by his trainer Willie Mullins.

Many scribes have been talking up this horse over the past few months, and well placed by Mullins he has beaten little of real champion hurdle consequence to date to merit all the chatter. In all probability Mullins who is a master tactician at placing his horses may never have seriously intended running the horse at Chelteham 2014 and was reported as indicating that the horse didn’t need Cheltenham at this stage of his career!

I think that WP will win plenty of races with this French bred son of Denham Red but not the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle this season!

The Red Mills Chase saw Tom Taaffe trained Argocat surprise me and though he is a little mercurial the 10/1 winner is pretty handy and might just try his look at Prestbury Park. Well done again to Brian O’Connell on another fine Grade 2 win, just when will this fine jockey pick up a retainer from some of the bigger yards?

Over the pond saw some very interesting activity none more so than on the all weather at Kempton on Sunday!!

I know the All Weather on Sunday!!! Here Nicky Henderson ran Your Tent Or Mine in a 2 mile bumper with the the 7 year Desert Prince Champion Hurdle contender winning very comfortably. These bumpers for jumpers are primarily in place I would imagine because of the loss of racing over jumps due to the weather, so fair dues to Henderson on taking the opportunity to give his horse a race on better ground.

So a prep race on the All Weather prior to a Cheltenham might be all the rage if My Tent Or Yours wins for JP McManus and Tony McCoy! Dundalk please take note……

While Dawn Commander a winner at the same track for Pauline Robeson may not line up at the festival but this former Tinahely Point to Point winner for Jamie and William Codd shows just how versatile these point winners can be.

Captain Chris and Melodic Randezvous won at Ascot and Wincanton and both of them will be aimed at the Festival with a Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle run on the menu.

In the year thats in it both will deserve to take their chances in open renewals.

So three weeks today, its beginning to feel a lot like , well you know the rest……

A Grade 2 benefit for Mullins if Gowran races today!

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Gowran Park looks like possibly being a Grade 2 benefit day for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh today.

An 8 am inspection today probably might not give us the the answer we want. But assuming that the rain that fell last night in the south east hasn’t scuppered Red Mills day the two Grade 2 races have thrown up a couple of small fields at the courses February highlight.

Un De Sceaux is a really interesting horse with the 6 year old son of Denham Red contesting the 4 runner race. Holding an entry in the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle this horse has been quietly campaigned by Mullins and should have no trouble winning here.

Whether he runs in the Champion Hurdle is anyones guess, bar of course , Willie Mullins , who already knows where he goes from here!

The Red Miles Chase the other Grade 2 on the card looks a more competitive affair with the 5 runners headed by the 7 year old Dom Alco gelding Turban. A nice winner at Fairyhouse this French bred should run well under Ruby Walsh.

They might get most to do from Tony Martins Bog Warrior, with the Gigginstown House Stud owned and Bryan Cooper ridden horse having the class to win today but maybe not the fitness.

While Henry De Bromhead could have the 8 year old Aupcharlie pretty well primed to open his account for the Co Waterford yard.

On balance Turban should have the fitness advantage over this pair to give Mullins and Walsh a Red Mills double!

The remainder of the card looks difficult to pick obvious winners from so I will only nominate one other.

The concluding bumper might just fall to Tom Foley and his son PT Foley with the Kings Theatre horse All In The Head. Foley has a good record at Gowran, his yard is in good form and might be worth support here.

A quick gallop through the card on Hennessy Day might find a winner?

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Leopardstown today plays host to a super card at the South Co Dublin track.

With four Grade 1 races up for grabs it is a little disappointing that only 22 horses are down to face the starters flag.

Lets hope that the epidemic of withdrawals that sometimes afflicts racing wont raise its head here.

I think we will take a quick gallop through a few of the runners before deciding on possible winners.

Racing opens with the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle with my preference being for Plinth for Aidan O’Brien and Tony McCoy. He has already beaten the market leader Ivan Grozny at this track and I see no reason why that cannot be repeated.

The Mares Handicap Hurdle gives Daryl Deacons mare Tudor Fashion an each way chance of adding to her Fairyhouse win under John Cullen with the Gordon Elliot trained Ariane Nopolis looking very strong.

Moving on to Grade 1 Novice Hurdle , Philip Fentons The Tullow Tank has surprised many this year and he should retain his unbeaten record for Danny Mullins and Barry Connell.

The Novice Steeplechase has only 3 runners, making it hard to believe that with all the horses in training we can only muster 3 runners for a €75,000 pot. This will be a very tactical race and likely to be won by the horse with the best turn of foot. I have always liked Carlingford Lough but will desert him here for Ballycasey for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh.

The Handicap Hurdle might fall to Never Enough Time for Tom Foley and Ger Fox. They were highly impressive on Thyestes Day at Gowran Park and with the 7lb claim of Fox the weight might just be light enough on the small horse to see him win again.

The Hennessy Gold Cup is fascinating, nearly everyone of the 7 runners have something positive and negative to say about them. If Paul Nicholls can plunder another big race with Tidal Bay it wont say much about our chasers. I wouldn’t put it past him today but First Lieutenant might just do it for Mouse Morris, Bryan Cooper and Gigginstown.

The Hunters Chase sees Nina Carberry ride On The Fringe for Enda Bolger rather than Pandorama from her own yard. That is good enough for me and I take him to upset Quel Esprit.

The bumper should see Carberry ride a double as the Noel Meade trained and Gigginstown On Your Eoin has been progressive so far and should win.

So thats the gallop over and the choices made, have a good one!

Rothwells’s patience pays off with a fine double at Down Royal.

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Down Royal racecourse opened its 2014 programme today with a seven race card. With the ground on the heavy side punters did well to back a winner or two with only one winning favourite on the day.

Co Wicklow based trainer Philip Rothwell never lets his horses stand still for very long once they are race fit and sent a team of horses from his Tinahely base to the Co Down track.

Patience is a virtue they say and Rothwell showed it in abundance here when he conjured up a fine stable double with Mark Me Up and Divine Rhapsody.

Saddling two horses in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase , Rothwell entrusted the ride on Mark Me Up over the two mile trip to Co Kilkenny man Andrew Ring.

This 9 year old son of Mark of Esteem was a point to point winner 5 years ago in 2009 for Colin McKeever , with Rothwell managing to win twice since with him ,once in 2012 here in Down Royal and again at Wexford on St Patricks Day in 2013.

Ring is a stylish jockey and he managed to get the horse home here at 5/1 in front of his stable companion Popaflora.

Rothwells patience was shown in abundance with his handling of the 8 year old City Honours gelding Divine Rhapsody. This horse a bumper winner in 2010 at 33/1 under Mikey Fogarty raced at the Cheltenham festival in 2011 finishing seventh under Paul Carberry behind Cheltenian in the bumper. With very little racing having only run 6 times in four years he turned up at Down Royal to win the 2 mile novice handicap hurdle under Brian O’Connell at 8/1.

O’Connell is an important part of the Rothwell team at Fairwood, Tinahely and it was good to see both Ring and O’Connell benefit today.

Racing opened with a nice double for Noel Meade and Paul Carberry to start the day with Blissful Moment and Didntitellya, followed up by the Noel Hynds trained Say It Again with Adrian Joyce and Charles Byrnes completing the day with Gold Not Silver and Red House Hill.

But on this day it is Rothwell that should take a bow for his patience and deserves the headlines.

He must have hopes that both his winners can add to these wins here a little quicker than they have in the past!

Tiara, Patrol and Strand all worth a chance at Punchestown.

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Punchestown holds a more than interesting card today with Boylesports sponsoring the 2 mile Grade 2 Tied Cottage Chase the centre piece.

Here Willie Mullins runs Arvika Ligeonniere in the 2 mile contest with the 9 year probably racing for the last time if he is to run at the Cheltenham Festival. He has a favourites chance here but Henry De Bromhead Special Tiara catches the eye as a potential outsider of 4. With “Arvika” at prohibitive odds De Bromheads 7 year old Kayf Tara gelding might merit a few euro here.

The INH Stallion Owners EBF Listed Novice Hurdle has a number of nice young horses competing against each other. Wicklow Brave’s bumper form makes most appeal here with the 5 year old Beat Hollow likely to be a short enough price for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh.

The Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeplechase has 16 runners here with the biggest story being Big Shu and Barry Cash no longer a partnership. Paul Carberry takes the mount on Peter Mahers horse making him a fine replacement.An e/w chance here could be Evanna McCutcheon and Long Strand in the days racing spectacle.

The Grade C Grand National Trial has Colm Murphy’s Quito De La Roque as top weight with the handicap being compressed leaving 6 horses out of the handicap. Cork National winner Sword Fish in the colours of JP McManus has the feather weight of 9st 11 lbs and could well win. Do keep an eye out for Pat Fahy’s Thelobstercatcher and Michael Cullen’s Carrig Millie as both may run well at a nice price.

The Pertemps Qualifier has a look of a race which you might stick a pin in to find a winner. With some seasoned horses mixing chase and hurdles here in addition to a number novice hurdlers going handicapping where Gold Patrol for Colin Bowe and Sean Flanagan making e/w appeal. He was fourth at Christmas in a similar race and could at least run up to the same.

Pink Hat for Willie and Patrick Mullins could take the opening hurdle while the same partnership might take the concluding bumper with Bosman Rule. Both of these horses have been beaten on their last two runs but probably deserve in final chance.

Townend is out on his own on Thyestes Day.

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Gowran Park staged the National Hunt highlight of the South East racing calendar today with the Goffs Thyestes Steeplechase on 50th anniversary of the legendary Arkle winning the same race.

Willie Mullins joined Tom Dreaper as the most successful Thyestes trainers with 5 winners apiece a fact not lost on Mullins when informed of it in the winners enclosure afterwards.

With 20 horses facing the starter Mullins saddled four including top weight Vesper Bell with 11-8, Uncle Junior, Balnaslow and the 2012 winner On His Own over the 3 mile 1 furlong trip on the soft to heavy ground.

With Ruby Walsh, Paul Townend, David Casey and Bryan Cooper taking the mounts, Mullins must have been more than hopefull of landing the €100,000 prize.

With Vesper Bell the chosen mount of Ruby Walsh from the quartet the 8 year old son of Beneficial went off 8/1 second favourite.

Paul Townend has been a vital cog in the Mullins machine for many years now and he was entrusted with the ride on the 10 year old Presenting gelding On His Own.

Taking the bold initiative of taking it on from flag fall the Co Cork based Townend made every post a winning one on the 12/1 chance to hold off the heavily backed 5/1 favourite Los Amigos for Jim Dreaper.

Making just one mistake from my recollection at the fourth last which saw him relinquish his lead briefly, Townend got back to the front and held all challengers to the line.

Speaking afterwards of the Graham and Andrea Wylie owned horse, Mullins commented ” That was a good performance, it was gutsy by Paul. I feel that the pay day was today”

Of the future plans for the winner Mullins indicated that he would be entered in the Aintree Grand National again and see from there.

Interestingly the winning trainer added that he had advised Ruby Walsh to opt for Vesper Bell , so even the very best trainers can get it slightly wrong!

It was a good day for the Mullins yard with the Co Carlow based Kilkenny man recording a nice treble on the day.

Racing opened with his 4 year old Beneficial gelding, Abbyssial, confirming the promise of his debut win at Fairyhouse. Ridden here by Ruby Walsh the 4/1 on favourite made every yard of the running to win in the Florida Pearl colours of Violet and Archie O’Leary. Mullins didn’t rule out Cheltenham this year with a trip to France a possibility and stated” He is a fine big strong chasing type. They might not have gone fast enough and did well to fend off quicker types”

Mullins other horse Noble Inn troubled the winner most and this fella should go into the notebook when the ground dries out in springtime.

Mullins hat trick came in the concluding bumper with his son Patrick winning on the 5 year old Heron Island horse Black Hercules for the Wylie’s. Mullins was not inclined to nominate Cheltenham as a first option for this horse either when stating “He is s big chasing type, the softer ground suits, so he might go again on this type of ground”

The Grade 2 €40,000 John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle saw 8 runners headed by the odds on chance Zaidpour for Mullins and Walsh. This horse looked unhappy some way from the finish as they all tried to catch Bryan Cooper on Un Beau Matin from Gordon Elliott’s Co Meath yard.

Only one horse actually did with Elliotts second horse, Mala Beach fairly powering away in the end to win in the colours of Chris Jones at 100/30. A 3 mile chaser in the making this 6 year old by Beneficial seems to prefer the softer ground.

Eoin Doyle didnt have to travel that far from his Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny base when taking the 2 mile maiden hurdle with The Winkler. Owned by Mooncoin man Jamie Dunphy and Pauline Doyle the trainers mither this 5 year old son of Medaaly will go novice hurdling. Speaking afterwards Doyle stated” He is a a good tough horse, they went a bit quick for him the last day, but he got a strong ride from Michael to win”

This was very much a Kilkenny winner as Michael Butler the 3 lb claiming jockey comes from nearby Mullinavat and they raised the roof winning at 5/1.

JP McManus was not on hand to welcome home Never Enough Time the 4/1 winner of the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle under Ger Fox. The young Meath man who was winning his second race of the McManus sponsored series this year so far fairly bolted in on the 6 year old son of Oscar to win.

With his winning trainer, Co Carlow based Tom Foley trying to get away to saddle another runner he did take the time to say “Frank Berry will tell me where we might go next, but he is a small horse and cannot carry big weights, so I hope the handicapper didn’t see him!”

The final winner to record was the Dessie Hughes trained and Bryan Cooper ridden Some Tikket in the beginners chase. This 13/2 chance , a 7 year old son of Tikkanen, came with one run to win. With both the trainer and owners absent plans for the horse will have to wait for another day.

Cullen, Deacon and Doyle make Fairyhouse a little bit of Wexford!

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With Barney Curley and his betting coup in Britain taking all the headlines today very few noticed the take over of Fairyhouse yesterday by the yella bellies!!!!!

Wins for John Cullen, Daryl Deacon and Liz Doyle took the honours at the Co Meath track with all three trainers showing just how good they are.

John Cullen now one of the senior jockeys in the weigh room has also taken out a trainers licence and currently operates from the Racecourse in Thurles.

Originally from Blackwater in Co Wexford, the Cullen family have been immersed in racing and horses all their lives. John really had no hope of avoiding it and he has had a distinguished career as a jockey winning in Ireland, Britain and France.

Cullen has a small team of horses to work with and saddled his first winner in Ireland when the 33/1 chance Misty Lady took the 2 mile maiden hurdle. This 5 year old Oscar mare owned by Imelda Lynch had shown a little glimpse of form in the past and only got into the race as first reserve. Cullen cut down on expenses here by giving himself the leg up on the horse, which was his second winner of the day in the saddle. Not a bad haul, two wins as a jockey and one as a trainer!

Racing opened with Clonroche, Co Wexford based trainer Daryl Deacon scoring with Tudor Fashion in the maiden hurdle. With some nice form to her name the 7 year old Presenting mare, home bred by the Deacon family won at 4/1. Owned by the Walsh family the mare needed Cullens forceful finish to get home by a neck.

Funnily enough a neck was the same distance that Crossabeg, Co Wexford trainer Liz Doyle saw her Pairofbrowneyes win by in the very next contest under Adrian Heskin. This Noel Henley owned 5 year old Luso gelding gave Doyle yet another winner as she sets her sights today on the Thyestes Chase with Rich Revival and Brian O’Connell.

Of course there were other winners at Fairyhouse, but given the obvious links to Co Wexford it was a day when Fairyhouse became a little bit of Wexford!

Doyles yard running into form.

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With racing at Dundalk, Naas and Fairyhouse over the weekend it would be unfair not to congratulate Liz Doyle on saddling a great little double at Naas.

The Co Wexford based trainer seems to be running into form with some nice performances coming from her stables.

Based at Kitestown, Crossabeg on the outskirts of Wexford town the former Point to Point jockey has now had 3 winners since the turn of the year from a pretty small yard of racehorses.

Naas saw her pick up a nice handicap hurdle with the 7 year old Norwich mare, Glen Beg, with the talented Kevin Sexton in the saddle. Winning at 33/1 in this €14,500 race this was the mares 2nd win from 15 starts. With a future in the breeding sheds beckoning Doyle was highly praise worthy of Sexton on his handling of her horse.

Doyle only had to wait 35 more minutes to record her second winner when Reality Dose won the €10,000 Two Mile Handicap Chase at 13/2.Ridden by Adrian Heskin the 10 year Quws gelding seems to reserve his best form for this track having won the exact same race here a year ago.

Doyle must also have been pleased to see her good bumper horse Le Vent D’Antan return to finish third at Fairyhouse yesterday on his hurdling debut.

No review of racing would be complete these days without mention of a winner or two from Willie Mullins, Co Carlow yard.

A first and last race double at Naas might well have seen the Cheltenham Festival 2014 Triumph Hurdle and Bumper winner in Ivan Grozny and Killultagh Vic.

The French bred Ivan Grozny a 4 year old son of Turtle Bowl won very easily under Ruby Walsh to make a big impression over hurdles while Patrick Mullins won on the Old Vic 5 year old Killultagh Vic in the bumper.

While at Fairyhouse on Sunday he won the Grade 3 hurdle with the French bred mare, Gitane Du Berlais , a 4 year old daughter of Balko winning under Paul Townend. He hadn’t finished at that as he won the Grade A Dan Moore Chase with the Dom Alco 7 year old ,Turban, yet another French bred this time for Ruby Walsh.

The South East yards struck again at this meeting with a
“Grand ” double of sorts. Co Waterford based Henry De Bromhead saw his 6 year old Gold Well gelding Grand Jesture open his account under Davy Russell in the Beginners Chase at 5/4 fav.

With the other “Grand” winner coming in the bumper with Tom Mullins saddling Grand Partner to win at 25/1 for David Mullins. This 6 year old is a son of Millenary who stands at Knockhouse Stud in Kilmacow, Co Kilkenny.

Not that the jumps brigade had the only winners over the weekend, Dundalk continues to race on the flat with Clashmore,Co Waterford based Thomas Cummins winning with the Court Cave 8 year old gelding Fairy Court under Ian Queally, while Piltown, Co Kilkenny trainer, Michael Butler took the maiden with the 5 year old Cape Cross gelding Carvelas under Ray Dawson.

Not a bad 3 days for yards in the South East particularly for Doyle with her Naas double and the Dundalk duo keeping the flat flag flying!

Cooper and Gigginstown may Rule at Naas.

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Brian O’Connell gets the leg up on the talented 11 year old Dunguib at Naas today in the 2 mile 3 furlong Grade 3 Limestone Lad Hurdle. Last seen at Cheltenham behind Hurricane Fly in 2011, the 8 time winner returns for Philip Fenton and his ever patient owners Daniel Hartnett and Liz Lawlor with no plans beyond todays run yet made public.

His bumper win in 2009 saw the then 6 year old son of Presenting defeat Rite of Passage and Quel Esprit amongst others. Rite of Passage went of to win the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup on the flat while Quel Esprit took the Grade 1 Hennessy Chase clearly underlining the talented horse that Dunguib was.

Lets hope that today he runs well but I am unsure that that he will be forward enough to win.

In the absence of this certainty Bryan Cooper the new number one at Gigginstown looks like having a real chance of winning on the Mouse Morris Rule the World. He ran well over Christmas in the stayers hurdle at Leopardstown ,the shorter distance here is a worry in my view but he is a classy horse.

The rest of the field might have a question mark or two about them with the Willie Mullins pair of Upsie and Mourad looking capable of winning if we can forget their last runs. Ruby Walsh sides with Upsie for JP McManus and that is probably the best indicator.

Rathlin and Davy Russell gives Morris and Gigginstown a second chance if something goes astray with their market leader , while Jennies Jewel is a very game progressive mare with place prospects at worse and a winning chance if the cards fall her way in the race for Jarlath Fahey and Danny Mullins.

Mullins could have a good day in any case as the Woodlands Park could fall to Foxrock for Barry Connell. Trained by Ted Walsh the promising 6 year old ran well at the festival meeting at Leopardstown when a fine third behind Carlingford Lough and Morning Assembly in the Grade 1 Topaz Chase.

This 6 year old Flemensfirth gelding probably has the measure of Rogue Angel in the colours of Gigginstown House Stud. This 6 year old son of Flemensfirth won well the last day for Mouse Morris and could be close while Henry De Bromheads Sizing Gold should not be discounted.

This is a really tight little Grade 2 race with only 5 runners over 3 miles and on pretty soft ground the safest bet is to stick with Foxrock.

Gigginstown could have a real benefit day with Cooper the potential beneficiary.

They look like they might take the opening maiden hurdle with Halling’s Treasure for Gordon Elliott while Paul Nolans Sardinia is an interesting recruit here with Mikey Fogarty in the saddle.

Conor O’Dwyers Flame and Flower could take the fourth race for Cooper and Gigginstown but Ruby Walsh and the Tony Martin trained Captain Hox look a better option in the INHS maiden hurdle.

The handicap hurdle puts Leopardstown Christmas form under the microscope again with Rocky Wednesday attempting to win for Elliot Cooper and Gigginstown. Denis Hogan and Luke’s Benefit are in great form and could strike again but an each way chance at the bottom of the handicap could be Benhego for Gordon Doyle and Adam O’Neill. A long time absent but he might just run well here.

Kennoway should take the handicap chase for Andrew Lynch and Claire O’Connell with the bumper maybe going to Gigginstown yet again with On Your Eoin for Noel Meade and Nina Carberry.

Gigginstown House Stud could go through the card but while unlikely they do look like playing a major part at the meeting today with Cooper in line to rule.