Brave Incacan out battle Harchibald

BRAVE INCA, with Tony McCoy confirmed as his new partner, gets the nap to outbattle Harchibald in a fascinating Emo Oil Champion Hurdle at Punchestown this afternoon.

On Cheltenham Champion Hurdle running there is little or nothing between the pair. Hardy Eustace beat Harchibald a neck then and it was a further neck to Brave Inca.

Paul Carberry was the subject of some unwarranted criticism for his handling of Harchibald, who looked sure to score for most of the straight. But he found the minimum when let down and managed to turn victory into defeat. Harchibald has no hill to face now and that is obviously in his favour.

Against him, however, is soft ground and any further rain would be a further worry. Brave Inca is not the subject of such considerations.

He followed Cheltenham with a most unlucky fall at Aintree, where he seemed to be full of running when departing the scene three from home, contest won by Al Eile.

With all due respect to his former partner, Barry Cash, Brave Inca is surely entitled to find a length or two for the extraordinary McCoy.

The tactics are certain to be geared towards getting Harchibald off the bridle and McCoy looks very much the right man for that job!

The other Grade One on the card, the Mennolly Homes Champion Novice Hurdle, promises a smashing contest, bringing together some of the very best we can muster.

The likes of the rapidly improving Major Vernon and Sher Beau, as well as Royal Paradise, who has to leave a disappointing Cheltenham effort behind, should go well.

But the one to beat is Asian Maze, who goes from strength to strength. She was superb when scoring at Aintree last time and is likely to ask serious questions of her rivals a fair way out.

The Railway Man, outclassed behind Wild Passion here on Tuesday, should find the company more to his liking in the Opel Novice Hurdle, while Irish Grand National winner, Numbersixvalverde, up 9lbs, is fancied in the betfair.com Novice Handicap Chase.

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