3.40 Paddy Power Hunters Chase for the Bishopscourt Cup (4yo+) 2m4f
Restricted to horses owned by Kildare farmers, this is a very poor contest. Likely favourite Rewritetherules was pulled up at Aintree but has many point-to-point placing to his name.
Alpha Male looks the best of Peter Maher’s three and was third to Some Man in Down Royal. He was well beaten in Cork since but that was a much better race than this.
Beyond Ambition might be a chance for Jamie Codd to pull back Patrick Mullins amateur title advantage but was well beaten in Tramore last time.
SELECTION: Alpha Male Next Best: Rewritetherules
4:15 EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase (Grade A) (5yo+) 2m5f
Asterion Forlonge gets a new rider in Bryan Cooper and must give upwards of 10lb to his rivals but can make a bold bid off top-weight with the Mullins yard in such hot form. He brings a higher level of form than any of these.
The main opposition comes from a wave of J.P. McManus runners headed by A Wave Of The Sea who won a valuable chase at the DRF before finishing well down the field at Cheltenham. He is in receipt of over a stone from Asterion Forlonge.
Dostal Phil (Simon Torrens booked) is also of interest from the Philip Hobbs yard. He was third at Aintree to Editeur Du Gite with yesterday's winner Sully D'oc in second and has been consistent all season.
Henry de Bromhead’s yard has still to strike a blow at the Festival and January Jets is passed over.
Port Stanley has still to win over fences but the Harrington team is in better form than earlier in the season. Ificudiwud is on a feather weight with Jordan Gainford’s claim. This horse was reported to have benefited from the application of cheekpieces, a step up in trip to three miles and the better underfoot conditions when winning the Ladies National in Fairyhouse.
SELECTION: Dostal Phil Next Best: A Wave Of The Sea
4:50 Hanlon Concrete Irish EBF Glencarraig Lady Francis Flood Mares Handicap Chase (Grade B) (4yo+) 2m5f
Mares' handicaps have been high in quality and competitiveness all season and this is an attractive novice handicap won in the past by today’s top-weight Magic Of Light and Moyhenna in 2019.
Demi Plie gave Elimay a race in Fairyhouse and a repeat of that form, on a line through Colveey, gives her strong claims.
Agusta Gold, Court Maid and Salsaretta have runs in the Irish National to overcome while Scarlet And Dove drops back in class from the Grade 1 in Faioryhouse and is not dismissed.
Waitnsee stays well and might be the each-way value as she has been well thought-of by John Ryan and won well on better ground in Cork.
SELECTION: Demi Plie Next Best: Waitnsee
5:25 Paddy Power Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+) 2m
Honeysuckle bids to make a clean sweep of the three Grade 1 hurdle championships. On her last two runs, where she stepped up to a new level, she looks unbeatable. She was much the best in beating Sharjah by six and a half lengths. It was also originally thought she was better right-handed.
Epatante, back in third, didn’t get the run of the race in Cheltenham but her potent turn of foot has been absent in her last two runs. Goshen returns right-handed from his wayward Champion Hurdle run but there is a suspicion that he was flattered by rivals running below par previously at Wincanton.
Sharjah always seems to strike when he is among the less-fancied and his best form and turn of foot make him the each-way bet. Abacadabras is also longish odds for a Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle winner but things went his way there and it was a poor Grade 1. He will have to be sharper here.
SELECTION: Honeysuckle Next Best: Sharjah
6:00 Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+) 2m4f
Bob Olinger was hugely impressive in scooting away from Gaillard Du Mesnil in the Ballymore in Cheltenham.
The superior form of the Mullins runners at this meeting might see the second close the seven and a half-length gap from Cheltenham but it’s hard to see the placing reversed if de Bromhead’s charge runs to that form. There was more expected from Ganapathi in Cheltenham, well down the field in the County Hurdle and he can come back to beat Ashdale Bob for third.
SELECTION: Bob Olinger Next Best: Gaillard Du Mesnil
6:35 Irish Daily Star Champion Hunters Chase (4yo+) 3m½f
This is probably the best hunter chase of the season. Billaway sets the standard but he has been busy of late. He just missed out in the Champion Hunters in Cheltenham and then didn’t take to the Aintree fences when fifth in the Foxhunters there.
Caid Du Berlais bids for his third win here for the Loxton/Biddick team and he has looked no back number at 12-years old in his two wins and is a much fresher horse.
It Came To Pass was disappointing in Cheltenham and is reunited with Maxine O’Sullivan while Solomn Grundy’s win last time in Fairyhouse puts him in the mix though he has been behind Billaway previously as Jury Duty must also come into consideration on his best form. Staker Wallace is not far behind the best.
Bob And Co has ability but can hit a fence and was still in contention when falling in Cheltenham and has an easy win with his owner David Maxwell on board in Hexham. With a clear round he could have a squeak.
SELECTION: Caid Du Berlais Next Best: Jury Duty
7:05 SalesSense International Novice Hurdle (4yo+) 2m
A tricky two-mile novice handicap and Keskonrisk might be the answer against three Mullins/Ricci runners. He found the Neptune too hot at Cheltenham but his run when third in the Grade 1 Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle was a strong effort.
El Barra is the obvious one after the success on Wednesday of Suprise Package, who was beaten by over two lengths by the Mullins runner at Fairyhouse. Elite Charboniere was an impressive maiden winner in Leopardstown and open to improvement but it’s hard to get a handle on the form as he was chased home by long shots.
SELECTION: Kesronrisk Next Best: El Barra
7:35 Avison Young INH Flat Race (5-7yo) 2m2f
Difficult to get to grips with this and market moves will offer a guide. Patrick Mullins is on the Gavin Cromwell-trained My Mate Mozzie, a Tattersalls point winner for Mags Mullins in December where only four finished. Jamie Codd partners the Wilson Dennison-owned Gortmillish, a Portrush winner last October.
Stone Mad comes from the right connections and the son of Yeats was bought for €185,000 at the Land Rover Sale.
Time Marches On is a half-brother to Dreal Deal and was second in a Tipperary 14-runner point-to-point. Bubbles In May has moved to Padraig Roche from Emmet Mullins, for whom he went off favourite on his debut when a decent second in Ballinrobe back in August. A Stuart Crawford runner is worth a look and his Leitrim Chief is a son of Leading Light.
SELECTION: My Mate Mozzie Next Best: Stone Mad