In the opening Beginners’ Chase on this afternoon’s card at Fairyhouse, Altiepix has a gilt-edged opportunity to get off the mark over fences.
The Gordon Elliott-trained runner won a point to point, a bumper and a maiden hurdle, but has the potential to surpass those achievements over the larger obstacles.
He made his chasing debut at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve and ran a decent race to finish third behind promising sorts Pleasant Company and Monty’s Meadow.
While well beaten, he jumped well and the experience ought to have brought him on.
With anticipated improvement, he will take beating in what looks a winnable race.
On recent form, Curragh Na Gold looks the most obvious danger but the trip is something of an unknown and thus Thekingofconnemara may give Altiepix most to think about.
Candle Island can take the two-mile-seven handicap hurdle for Michael McCullagh.
The experienced pointer has had seven runs under rules, one of which was a victory over hurdles at Thurles in November.
On that occasion he accounted for Ice Cool, who boosted the form when winning at Clonmel and Punchestown on his next two outings.
On Candle Island’s most recent start he was beaten just a head by Augher Castle, with Not For Burning in third place.
The last-named franked the form when winning at this track next time out, and also ran very well to take third place behind Golan Lodge last Sunday at Leopardstown.
While Candle Island is unlikely to be improving too quickly at this stage of his career, he comes here in great form, is proven on testing ground and over the trip.
He looks sure to give supporters a good run for their money, and is preferred to top-weight Shannak and former winner of this race Day Dream Boy.
Money for the last-named would be particularly interesting as he won this off a mark of 102, in 2014, and is now one pound lower.
With his stable in great form and this race likely to have been his target, he should also go well.
Knowing the strength of the two runners, Asthuria and Burgas, having their first starts for Willie Mullins looks the key to the maiden hurdles, and the market ought to tell the tale.
Burgas, who runs in the two-and-a-half-mile maiden, had three runs in France, and finished fourth on each occasion.
He has a tougher-looking task than his stable companion, but it’s far from insurmountable.
Space Cadet sets the standard, but has become frustrating since his impressive victory in a bumper at Leopardstown in December 2014.
Admittedly he has come up against numerous decent sorts, but he has struggled to put his head in front and is opposable at likely short odds.
Without any great knowledge of the French form, Burgas can only be a token selection to make a winning start in this country.
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