Fionnegas can do the business

TAKE a chance each-way on Fionnegas, even if he has been deserted by Ruby Walsh, landing the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.

In what can only be described as an intriguing puzzle, made all the more complicated by the fact the selection is one of four Willie Mullins-trained runners, Fionnegas should at least give us a good run.

He has a progressive profile and may now come into his own, running over three miles for the first time.

Fionnegas’ latest outing represented a career-best effort. In the Grade 1 Deloitte Hurdle at Leopardstown in February, he was beaten an admittedly flattering two-and-a-half lengths into second by Dunguib.

You can argue Dunguib was disappointing here on Tuesday, but he still performed respectably to fill third behind Menorah.

Mullins also runs Quel Esprit, a faller at Cheltenham on Wednesday, at the second in the Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle, along with the unbeaten Enterprise Park and the hard-pulling Arvika Ligeonniere. Quel Esprit, the choice of Walsh, will relish the trip and may emerge as the best of them, while there are two decent sorts representing the English in the shape of the particularly smart Restless Harry and Tell Massini.

The opening JCB Triumph Hurdle may be best left to Alaivan, for the Edward O’Grady/Andrew McNamara team.

He was taught to settle by McNamara when winning by 17 lengths at Fairyhouse and similar tactics are certain to be adopted.

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