The five-year-old has had just eight runs over hurdles, three of which he has won, and ran a superb race in defeat behind the well-handicapped Golden Spear on testing ground in last season’s Lartigue Hurdle at Listowel.
Given a break since not beaten far in the ultra-competitive Coral.ie Hurdle at Leopardstown in January, he blew away the cobwebs at Bellewstown last time and that should have put him spot-on for today.
Clearly open to plenty of improvement, he may not want more rain but he has shown he can handle soft conditions, and, with just 10-11 to carry, can put another feather in the cap of rookie trainer Joseph O’Brien.
Superb Story would be the obvious choice if the ground was quick, but the ease certainly tempers enthusiasm somewhat.
There was plenty of confidence behind him prior to the County Hurdle, at the Cheltenham Festival, and he justified it in great style.
This race has been the plan ever since and, looking very well in off a mark of 145, he has a favourite’s chance.
The other obvious contender is Pyromaniac, who missed the cut last year.
A useful sort on the flat, he has won twice over hurdles and there’s plenty to suggest he can leave his current handicap mark behind.
The nap goes to Planchart, who can continue the terrific season of trainer Andy Slattery by taking the listed Arthur Guinness Corrib Stakes.
An easy winner of a decent maiden on yielding-to-soft ground on her penultimate start, she wasn’t beaten far in a listed race over ten furlongs last time.
Back to seven furlongs and with some cut in the ground, she can race prominently from the outset and prove too good for her rivals, headed by Rayisa.
The latter was just touched off in a decent maiden at this track last year and, while frustrating since, looks sure to run a big race.
Bumper winner Bel Sas was an easy winner on his first start over timber, and can follow up in the Guinness Novice Hurdle. Willie Mullins’ five-year-old had no trouble landing the odds over that three-mile trip, and should not be troubled by the half-mile shorter race.
If anything, it could prompt improvement, and he can take this at the expense of the progressive Bel Sas.
Camlann was an expensive failure in a handicap hurdle on Monday, but can recoup the losses back on the level in the Guinness Foals Handicap.
Shark Hanlon’s horse made the breakthrough on the flat on last month at Fairyhouse and an 11lb higher mark is unlikely to be enough to stop him.
With Pat Smullen in the plate, and the cut in the ground to suit he can make a quick return to winning ways.