Vautour was most impressive in the 2014 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and, despite his blip at Leopardstown in December, remains really exciting. The quicker conditions should prompt improvement, and recent reports are positive.
The Tullow Tank has been a shade disappointing over fences, but has time to put that right, while Smashing earned reward for his consistency with a recent success, but must step up again. Valseur Lido may prefer a longer trip, but has claims, along with the strong-staying Apache Stronghold.
Best of the Irish: Vautour.
Alternative: Valseur Lido
Toughest race of the meeting but Tony Martin’s Edeymi is the sole Irish representative and he catches the eye. Lightly raced recently, he was runner-up in the Fred Winter Hurdle in 2012, and runs off the same mark now. Last time out, at Musselburgh, he ran a race full of promise, and is entitled to improve significantly.
Best of the Irish: Edeymi
A race no Irish-based trainer has ever won, but Don Cossack is favourite to right that wrong. He has looked an improved sort this season, and should go close. Hidden Cyclone was runner-up in 2014 and arrives back in great shape following an impressive victory at Punchestown.
Foxrock was a late inclusion in this race, connections preferring this to a tilt at the Gold Cup. He’s an improving sort, with stamina in abundance, and should run well if the trip isn’t too sharp.
Best of the Irish: Don Cossack Alternative: Hidden Cyclone
Monksland was third behind Simonsig in the 2012 Neptune Novices’ Hurdle but has seen little action since. He has returned in good form this season, and could progress further.
Dedigout has been in great form recently, but may need to step up, while dual Grade One winner Lieutenant Colonel has been the subject of glowing reports recently.
The latter didn’t take to the hill when a fading sixth behind Faugheen in the 2014 Neptune, but may be a stronger horse this year.
Gordon Elliott’s Tiger Roll won the 2014 Triumph Hurdle and is respected, along with the in-form Dedigout, who has done nothing wrong this year. Abbyssial comes here off the back of a fall, but is classy, while Zaidpour must step up to figure. Jetson has run well here in the past.
Best of the Irish: Monksland Alternative: Lieutenant Colonel
Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate
Make A Track makes his debut for Gordon Elliott. He ran a super race in defeat on his only previous trip to the Festival, and could run well at a price.
Jessica Harrington’s Burn And Turn has been in good form this season, and gets in off a reasonable weight, while Klepht, from the Tom Mullins stable, must bounce back following recent disappointments.
Best of the Irish: Make A Track Alternative: Burn And Turn
Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup
The lightly raced Gold Bullet, trained by Tom Taaffe, catches the eye. The seven-year-old was beaten favourite behind Los Amigos last time out, but may improve for better ground, and has the assistance of Derek O’Connor.
Buddy Bolero fell here last year but finished fourth in the National Hunt Chase in 2013. He’s still lightly raced for a nine-year-old and money for him would be very interesting. Stable companion Guess Again makes his debut for Tony Martin and is hard to gauge, coming here off a long lay-off.
Ted Walsh’s Champagne James is still a maiden over fences but this improving sort could be suited by the likely strong gallop here.
Best of the Irish: Gold Bullet Alternative: Champagne James
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