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1.10 - Norman Colfer Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 3, 2m)
His Auteuil (2m2f, soft) success in October has received plenty of form boosts, both in France and in Britain, and TEAHUPOO made a winning start on Irish shores over this C&D (heavy) last month in the hands of Robbie Power.
Gordon Elliott's charge was in a proper battle with Willie Mullins' Youmdor that afternoon when the odds-on jolly came down at the final flight. It was anything but certain the market leader would have won the argument and, in any case, the eventual 15-lengths second, Druid's All Star, advertised the form with a win at Naas next time.
While Teahupoo has weight to give way now, he's got plenty going for him and can add to his tally with the Elliott string increasingly rising through the gears lately.
Of course, a chunk of respect is due to newcomers Tax For Max and Farout, both promising French imports themselves, now that they line out for champion trainer Willie Mullins. Paul Townend seemingly prefers the Maxios colt and any strong market move behind him would carry significance given the yard has a clear form line on the forecast favourite.
1.45 - Red Mills Trial Hurdle (Grade 3, 2m)
It would be foolhardy to write off Petit Mouchoir, a dual Grade 1-winning hurdler at his best, and with some top-level form as recently as last spring (one-length behind Honeysuckle in Irish Champion Hurdle). He made a decent start having switched to Gordon Elliott/left Gigginstown House Stud when he was third behind Sharjah at Leopardstown over Christmas, but he was far less convincing back there this month in the Irish Champion when all but tailed off in the end. He needs to bounce back fairly lively from that poor run.
Darasso was second in this last year at Gowran Park on heavy ground. He's been well held in two starts this season over three miles but might flourish in first-time blinkers back down in distance. Noel Meade's Sixshooter was in front of him in the Galmoy Hurdle (3m, heavy) and isn't dismissed out of hand now dropping in distance himself.
JASON THE MILITANT might be the answer after a short break for trainer Henry De Bromhead. He was an impressive Grade 2-winning novice on testing ground last season and won on the Flat here in October.
He shaped nicely in a Down Royal Grade 2 won by Aspire Tower next time and built on that when a close third in the Grade 1 Morgiana at Punchestown in November. Given the conditions are in his favour and the trip is preferential compared to rivals hoping for a change in fortune, Rachel Blackmore's mount appeals as the most likely winner.
2.17 - Connolly's Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle (2m)
Johngus ran an improved race last time at Gowran Park to be a close second over further. That run came on heavy ground so conditions are no concern, but he's exposed enough and isn't certain to be suited by the drop in distance now.
Similar comments apply to Breakeven, who has three solid runs in maiden hurdles under his belt already but doesn't necessarily seem certain to relish the drop back in trip.
That may pave the way for STRANGER DANGER to go on better than his hurdling bow at Thurles (1m7½f, soft to heavy) last month. He couldn't go with easy winner Eurotiep in that contest but took the minor money and, with further progress likely now, he's got solid claims.
Fame And Glory gelding Take Centre Stage should have the scope to show himself well in this discipline before long and he's one of the notable newcomers for a Sean Doyle yard that tends to do well with hurdlers.
2.52 - Bobbyjo Chase (Grade 3, 3m1½f)
Anibale Fly has the form to be winning this but it's something of a worry that Tony Martin's charge hasn't been out since last spring. Second in the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup and fifth in the Grand National at Aintree a month later, he delivered some lacklustre performances over fences last season and has often tended to need a first run back. Aintree, again, could be his main target this spring.
Acapella Bourgeois won this contest last year in easy fashion from then-stablemate Bellshill. He chased home dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo at a respectable distance on New Year's Day at Tramore and ran well for a long way before finishing fifth in last month's Thyestes at Gowran Park, having started joint-favourite.
It wouldn't be a big shock to see him going well back here, despite conceding 6lb to his four rivals.
Burrows Saint has only run twice over fences since his 2019 Irish National win here (3m5f) and he's also being prepared for Aintree in April. Paul Townend sides with him over Acapella Bourgeois today and it's dangerous to overlook their claims, despite the looming presence of that Grand National target in England.
The Long Mile has a bit to find on these terms and isn't proven at this distance, so we land on Noel Meade's TOUT EST PERMIS.
His early season efforts behind The Storyteller were encouraging and it's easy enough to overlook heavy defeats in the Savills Chase and Thyestes since. There were a few too many mistakes amongst the pack last time in that crowded handicap but if Sean Flanagan can engage a nice rhythm here, they might have excellent prospects.
3.25 - Fingal Hygiene & Safety Rated Novice Chase (3m1½f)
Joseph O'Brien has an ace-hand to unleash here with both Choungaya and HIGH SPARROW leading contenders.
Rachel Blackmore's mount was a winner over 2m5½f on similar ground at this track earlier in the month, breaking his duck at the eighth time of asking over fences. He beat off stablemate Fakir to get the verdict there but it might have been different had Avellino (third) not got the final jump all wrong.
The Gigginstown contender has to give 6lb to High Sparrow now and there's a question mark over this increased trip too.
For that reason, JJ Slevin's mount is preferred. He was a winner over this trip at Kilbeggan in August and has commendable runs there as well as at Cork and Punchestown in six starts since. He weakened late on in a Grand National Trial over 3m4f at the latter venue earlier this month but could bounce back here and his proven stamina is a major plus.
Macgiloney has had some stiff challenges since he won at Roscommon over this sort of trip in a beginners' chase last July. With his sights lowered, a mark of 127 looks workable for Denis Hogan's eight-year-old and he can give the selection plenty to think about in the closing stages.
4.00 - Tommy Carberry Handicap Hurdle (2m4f)
A couple of big-field handicaps at three miles haven't worked out for TEN TEN this season and he ultimately didn't look like justifying market prominence in the Paddy Power at Christmas or last month's Thyestes Chase.
He returns to hurdling from a much lower mark and might get his confidence-booster now under Mark Walsh, who prefers his chance to those of Campeador and Princely Conn seemingly.
He ran well enough over hurdles at Naas on his seasonal bow in November and, race-fit now, this could prove a really clever bit of placement from his in-form trainer.
Visionarian hasn't lost much caste in defeat when finishing second at Tipperary and Navan in novice events since a winning hurdles bow in a Gowran Park maiden in October, and rates the sort to do better again now handicapping from a fair opening mark.
Thunderosa meanwhile had plenty in hand when scoring over 3m at Punchestown this month and is considered a player despite going up 9lb for that success, while Mattie's Mountain has won his last three hurdles starts - two of them here over 2m - including over 2m3f on heavy going at Limerick in December and is a six-year-old with a bright future.
4.35 - Easter Festival 3rd - 5th April Handicap Hurdle (2m7f)
Goulane Jessie is a former C&D winner and just missed out at Punchestown last month over fences. The mare certainly has claims back over the smaller obstacles from this rating. Similar comments apply to Mister Butler, nicely-treated back over timber if replicating his most recent chase form.
Sargent Lightfoot has been knocking on the door this term and should keep doing so until his turn comes but HAPPIE DAYS gets the tentative vote. He has been hit and miss this season, with runner-up finishes here and at Tipperary mingled in with disappointments either side. It was a stronger race he contested here in early January and, given a short rest since, he could bounce back now in his continuing quest to shed the maiden tag.
5.10 - Ian Smith Memorial (Pro/Am) Flat Race (2m)
Gordon Elliott's Prevaricate was second on debut in a bumper at Down Royal in December and should have another challenge in him with Jamie Codd on board for the in-form yard, while Part Time Farmer also boasts form under rules and has a chance for the excellent Noel Meade/Pat Taaffe alliance.
There are dangers lurking amongst the newcomers however with Glengouly and GRACCHUS DE BALME both winners of their lone point-to-points starts.
The former has joined Willie Mullins and, of course, is much-feared given the champion trainer's ability to dominate in this sphere, but perhaps Joseph O'Brien's hood runner can take his measure in what shapes up to be a very informative bumper to close proceedings.