The five-year-old was an intended runner in a similar event at Fairyhouse, for which he was the subject of a morning gamble. However, the stable was not firing at that point and the decision was made not to run in the race won by Mr Diablo and in which one of today’s rivals, Pink Coat, was third.
His only start to date came in a handicap hurdle at Naas, and he caught the eye finishing a pleasing sixth behind Total Recall. He also had reasonable form in France, but it looks significant connection are not wasting any more time over hurdles. While he has plenty of potential, if he can match his hurdle rating of 126 on this first start over fences he will be very hard to beat.
Vercingetorix was better than that level over hurdles and has some chasing experience, but has been frustrating to follow and is likely to have to settle for a minor role once more.
Long-standing maiden Mick The Boyo can finally get his turn, in the two-mile handicap hurdle. From the stable of James Grace, he ran a fine race in defeat when third behind the re-opposing All The Chimneys last time out, and the form of that race received a boost when runner-up Admiral Brian scored at Ballinrobe, despite being put up 5lbs for his defeat at Navan.
The selection, who has gone up 3lbs for his effort, hit the front two out but was run out of it on the Navan hill. The booking of Davy Russell looks significant, this easier track should allow the horse produce a more sustained effort in the finish, and if let bowl along he could be very hard to catch.
The novice chase looks quite open, but a recent break and slightly better ground can help Goulane Chosen gain an overdue reward for his consistency.
David McGrath’s horse isn’t best treated by the conditions of the race, but had a busy period between New Year’s Eve and early March, running six times. While he held his form well then, he hasn’t been in action for six weeks, so ought to return fresh and ready to build on the promise of those fine efforts.
He is preferred to The Winkler, another consistent sort, who received reward at Downpatrick last time. He made a bad mistake down the far side, one which should have put him out of the race, but he recovered well and won with something to spare. There ought to be more to come from him, and he can chase the selection home.