Straightforward task for Hill

Punters at Wexford this afternoon are in for a treat, with the potentially top class Briar Hill set to make his seasonal debut in the opening Supporters’ Club AGM And Table Quiz Maiden Hurdle.

It is slightly surprising that the brilliant Cheltenham festival winner reappears on this track, but Willie Mullins has so many horses to fit in that he has to take, one presumes, every opportunity which presents itself.

Briar Hill, successful in a point-to-point, had his first outing on the track at Thurles in January. Going off at 1-5, he won a bad five-horse affair by seven lengths and then wasn’t seen again until Cheltenham in March in the Wetherbys’ Champion Bumper.

His prospects weren’t overly obvious, but the 25-1 shot exploded off the home turn for Ruby Walsh and flew up the hill to win in a canter.

It will be surprising should Briar Hill not go off at prohibitive odds and equally surprising if he fails to deliver.

The nap vote falls on Edward O’Grady’s Lord Of Lords in the two and a quarter mile Slaney Maiden Hurdle. He was trained by Helena Keaveney when making his debut in a bumper at Navan in March of last year.

Backed from 12-1 to 11-2, to land what was admittedly a modest affair, Lord Of Lords scored by 23 lengths.

He then disappeared until returning, this time in O’Grady’s care, in a hot maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse almost a year ago.

Lord Of Lords, despite mistakes at the fifth and the second last, finished a creditable fourth behind Bright New Dawn, Ned Buntline and Mala Beach, in a contest that has been working out particularly well.

The selection has almost certainly had problems, but the booking of Barry Geraghty is encouraging.


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