A promising second behind useful sorts Marakoush and Yorkhill on his first two starts, he was a well-backed favourite to make it third time lucky at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting but was a little below par there and had to settle for third place behind Chain Gang and Minella Aris. A six-week break since has given connections time to freshen him up, and he can use this opportunity to get himself back on track. The conditions of the race enhance his appeal as he is in receipt of 10lbs from bumper winner Sizinguptheamazon, and is readily preferred to that rival.
Having fallen on her two most recent outings, Ballychorus may not appeal as the safest conveyance in the mares’ novice chase, but she has the best form in the book, by some margin, and a clear round should suffice.
On her first start in a handicap chase, in the Troytown at Navan, she was still in a share of the lead when departing at the last, and it was a similar story in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown last time, when she was still very much in the mix until departing at the final fence.
That level of form suggests she is still on an upward curve and, with plenty in hand on official figures, should come home in front of the promising Emcon. The latter also fell last time, but that was too far out to realise how she may have run in that Grade 2 won by Aunt Nora. She looked potentially very smart over fences when beating Carrigmoorna Rock at Clonmel, but hasn’t yet stepped up from that. There is plenty of time, and a clear round should see her into second place.
It’ll be disappointing if Kayf Supreme doesn’t deliver in the opener, but his odds will reflect that. His form behind Zabana in a beginners’ chase at Leopardstown reads very well in the context of this race, and he ran a fine race on his handicap debut at the same track on Champion Hurdle day. Although his jumping lacked fluency, he was pretty safe over his obstacles, and was beaten just four lengths by Bearly Legal. Back in maiden company today, over a longer trip, if he settles and stays, he should earn an overdue chase victory.
Burgas was a beaten favourite at Fairyhouse on his Irish debut, for Willie Mullins, but can make amends in the two-mile maiden hurdle. Although word had it he was a stayer in the making, he faded late to finish third behind Uaintseenothingyet, which suggests all may not have been 100% on the day.
The five-year-old is likely to be ridden positively over the shorter trip and can see off the challenge of Minella Scamp, who has shown potential in recent outings over hurdles, and shouldn’t have to wait too long for his chance.