12.10 Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Steeplechase 2m5f
Nobody Home is a ready choice here in a tricky opener. Eddie Cawley will have targeted this race, as it suits the horse's rating, and given the ease of his hurdles win two outings ago off 113, he is surely well-treated over fences off 115, even if he suffered defeat in this discipline last time. The trip may have been at fault then.
Dubliner Karl Thornton has had a pretty quiet season but Bearly Legal is interesting at a big price. He really likes Leopardstown, and his last run when out of his depth can be ignored.
Henry de Bromhead runs both Surf Instructor and Poker Party. Both need monitoring in the market, but it is hard to make a convincing case for either.
Selection: Nobody Home 6-1
12.45 Pigsback.com Maiden Hurdle 2m4f
A competitive maiden hurdle and The Big Dog, who made such a favourable impression when toughing it out to take a Naas bumper, is interesting. It seemed avaricious that he began his hurdling life in a Grade 3 at Cork, but then again the fact he was sent off single figures in the betting indicates the regard in which he is held.
Willie Mullins' Castlebawn West looks vulnerable after losing out in what looked a weaker maiden hurdle last time and the Gigginstown pair, Acronym and Dream Conti, would appear to be bigger dangers. Acronym was a nice bumper winner but Daly Tiger did nothing to boost the form of their Punchestown clash at Leopardstown on Thursday, while Dream Conti looks a bigger danger after a cracking run behind Tornado Flyer.
Selections: The Big Dog 9-1
1.20 Listed Advent Insurance Irish EBF Mares Hurdle 2m4f
Clearly, Willie Mullins holds the key here. This should probably go the way of Limini, if she is anywhere near her best, though her Flat form this year did tail off a little bit – albeit after some cracking efforts in Premier Handicaps.
That said, in face of a tough task, Limini did not do a great deal wrong in the Hattons Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse last time. She is a very talented mare on her day.
Mullins has also declared JP McManus’ French import Elimay. She did not look a superstar in her native country, beaten her last four runs, but they were in good company and the betting will be fascinating here relative to Limini.
Forge Meadow looks miles below her best at the moment and indeed Mullins could have the 1-2-3 as Good Thyne Tara is solid and reliable.
Selection: Limini 4-7
1.55 Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Steeplechase 3m
No, your eyes do not deceive you: five of the seven runners here are wearing maroon silks, with Delta Work much the most likely winner. It had been a quiet first two days for Gordon Elliott over the Christmas period (two winners from 50 runners) but he hit form yesterday and backers of Delta Work need not worry.
He has long shown a terrific attitude, such as when edging out Glenloe in the Pertemps at Cheltenham and when beating subsequent Grade 1 winner Le Richebourg at Fairyhouse, despite a bad mistake at the last. He steps up to three miles now and that can only suit. Generally an excellent jumper, he is very hard to oppose.
Blow By Blow was miles behind the selection at Fairyhouse and it is hard to see him reversing the form, while Mortal was a somewhat surprise winner over Any Second Now (since fifth in the Paddy Power) in his maiden when a big enough price.
Moonshine Bay, who did not have much to beat at Thurles, may be the value for the forecast in what is not an especially deep Grade 1.
Selections: Delta Work 4-7
2.30 Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle 2m
Though perennial front-runner Petit Mouchoir is in this race, it seems more likely that Tombstone will make the pace.
Certainly Samcro will not after it looked not to suit him at all when he was brushed aside by Buveur D'air at Newcastle, form that has not worked out well.
Samcro is somehow staring four successive defeats in the face, which would have been completely inconceivable not at all long ago.
His fall, Melon tumbling independently at the same hurdle, left us in the dark at Punchestown. Samcro has been a well-held second twice since, while Melon has yet to appear this season – but the whispers are strong.
Likely Melon could have beaten Buveur D’air in the Champion Hurdle last season had Faugheen not interfered with him before the second-last. The vibes are good and he gets a tentative nod.
Supasundae, intriguingly, came here rather than the three-mile race; do connections think this is more winnable than taking on Apples Jade? He is not out of this, but it is hard to see him having the pace of Melon.
Selection: Melon 9-4
3.05 Virgin Media Business Irish EBF Novice Handicap Hurdle 2m4f
This is extremely competitive and nothing could be ruled out with too much confidence. Often in such races you are better off going with a long shot and Mysloegin is a tentative pick.
Jimmy Finn's horse likes this trip and I feel she does not really stay the distance he tried last time. She will enjoy the hustle and bustle of the big field.
Milliner has been put in favourite and justifiably so. The Gold Well five-year-old won on debut, a rare thing over hurdles, and did very little wrong in defeat last time. With more progress on the cards, a mark of 125 looks fair enough, and Henry de Bromhead has his team thriving.
Court Tycoon is up in grade but progressing nicely, while Court Maid could also keep up Tom Mullins' fine form.
Selection: Mysloegin 20-1
3.35 Christy Lucey Transport INH Flat Race 2m1f
This might be an effective match but it is a hell of a race. Mt Leinster met a potential star in Malone Road last time and, absolutely blown apart by that rival, his reputation obviously suffered somewhat. However, it was still a fine run, and he is held in high regard.
Meticulous, however, may be even better. It is deeply regrettable that his sire, Fame And Glory, is no longer alive, as he has sired some really nice horses, including this one. He travelled like a really nice prospect on his debut at Killarney, pulling away by nine lengths, and the runner-up has been runner-up in two other bumpers.
Selection: Meticulous 11-8