Brilliant winner of the bumpers at the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals, he has the potential to go all the way to the top and it will be a major surprise should he meet defeat here.
Philip Fenton’s charge made his debut over flights at Galway 20 days ago, strolling through a moderate contest to score without turning a hair.
Except for getting it wrong at one of the obstacles, his technique was good and, hopefully, it will be a case of more of the same, in a far stronger contest than Galway.
The nap vote falls on Golan Go in the first, the Punchestown Christmas Market three-year-old Hurdle.
He revelled in the testing ground when getting off the mark at Galway and was far from disgraced at Listowel next time, beaten seven lengths by the 6lbs receiving Mosstown.
Quel Esprit, regarded by Willie Mullins as a star of the future, gets the vote in the INH Stallion Owners’ EBF Maiden Hurdle.
Fourth to Dunguib at Cheltenham, he powered through the heavy surface to score easily at Punchestown subsequently.
The handicapper’s ratings tell us Hurricane Fly should finish behind Solwhit and Muirhead in the Grade 1 Dobbins and Madigans Hurdle at Punchestown tomorrow.
Solwhit is currently regarded as 8lbs better than him and Muirhead just llb. But Hurricane Fly has a real mixture of speed and class about him and gets the vote to solidify his position at the head of the Champion Hurdle market.
Sizing Europe is hard to oppose in the Grade 2 Craddockstown Novice Chase. He appears to have left his well documented troubles behind and was quite superb when slamming Harchibald by 17 lengths on this track last month.
Clan Tara, who made an excellent start over fences when beaten a head by Pandorama at Punchestown, gets the nap in the Grade 3 Florida Pearl Novice Chase.
At Cork tomorrow, should the meeting pass a 7.30am inspection, Our Monty can land the paddypower.com Grand National Handicap Chase.
He has run just twice for Willie Mullins, taking two handicap hurdles with any amount in hand. His ability to stay three and a half miles has to be taken on trust, but there’s also the chance he may be tossed in at the weights.
Mullins will be most anxious the green light is given, because he has serious prospects to boot with Definitive Edge, Quadrillon, Skorcher and Sicilian Secret, all over hurdles.