Sicilian and Ruby look the part

SICILIAN SECRET should open his hurdling account in the Ratoath Maiden Hurdle at Fairyhouse today.

Well-touted ahead of his successful debut in a Leopardstown bumper last year, the Willie Mullins-trained gelding failed to live up to expectations in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham.

But the son of Flemensfirth then finished a creditable fifth (subsequently promoted to fourth) behind Dunguib in the champion bumper at Punchestown, just behind the likes of the useful Luska Lad.

Sicilian Secret started a red-hot 4/11 favourite for his hurdling bow at Cork back in November but disappointed, failing to cope with Wilde Wit Pleasure.

Mullins’ charge has not been seen since. But, if the market speaks in his favour today, Sicilian Secret, the mount of in-form Ruby Walsh, should prove tough to beat, with the Tony McCoy-ridden Taking Stock and Johnnyofcourse the likely threats.

Walsh also has obvious prospects on the Tony Martin-trained Askmeroe in the Broad Meadow Beginners Chase.

Winner of a handicap hurdle at Limerick, Askmeroe has run just three times over fences and shaped with plenty of promise when third to Kimberlite King here (on the inside track) last time.

Any improvement on that effort will probably be enough to see Askmeroe home in what looks a particularly modest contest.

Three horses which contested the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham clash again in the five-runner Ballybin Hurdle.

And the Dermot Weld-trained Prince Erik, apparently much-improved in recent outings, finishing runner-up to Buena Vista at Cheltenham is expected to confirm his superiority over Smoking Aces (sixth) and Boulavogue (ninth), which will be ridden by David Casey, returning after a heavy fall on Monday.

Prince Eric, described by his trainer as ‘a character’ relished testing conditions and looks in peak condition. He should

triumph.

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