IN SUMMARY: This race revolves around Espoir D’Allen who will go off at a very short price and is almost unbackable. There may be better value to be had in backing MASTERMIND (Each Way) instead at the prices though barring mistakes he should be racing for second spot at best. He does have room for improvement over hurdles after just the two starts and is a sporting alternative to the jolly here.
1 ESPOIR D’ALLEN – Looks a very classy sort who is currently on target to compete in all the top juvenile hurdles over the rest of the season, though before then he will look to make it four in a row over hurdles after arriving from France after winning his only bumper start at Lignieres in April. He was stepped up in class to take in the Grade Three Bar One Racing Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse which he won with ease after quickening up nicely two out and scoring with any amount in hand.
2 DESERT GREY – Makes his hurdling debut here after finishing twelfth in a Dundalk claimer last time out on his first run since leaving Roger Charlton. A maiden on the flat after ten starts he has finished second over both six and seven furlongs but looks hopelessly outclassed and would be a shock winner and priced accordingly.
3 FARCLAS – One win from four starts on the flat when trained in France when scoring over a mile and a half at Clairefontaine before changing hands privately and moving to Gordon Elliott and a difficult to judge sort ahead of his hurdling debut. Lack of experience has to be of some concern and the grey may well be best watched for the moment but has to be of interest for future races.
4 MASTERMIND – Remained a maiden on the flat after five starts and never starting at odds shorter than 25/1 but won on only his second start over hurdles at Gowran Park when winning a maiden hurdle by five lengths from Randall Ur Poet who was then beaten a lot further next time out by Espoir D’Allen. That makes this a tough ask but he does seem to be improving and could yet surprise a few of these in the finish.
5 MITCHOUKA – Beaten four and a half lengths by Espor D’Allen at Fairyhouse last time out but does meet that rival on three pounds better terms today so in theory it should be closer. He has won his two previous starts over hurdles by ten lengths and fifteen lengths at Fairyhouse and Punchestown but may be even better with further rain to blunt the speed of his obvious rivals.
6 TENTH AMENDMENT – Yet to win a race with eleven defeats on the flat and the one over hurdles when second to Mitchouka at Fairyhouse. One run on the flat since that defeat saw a poor ten-length eighth at Dundalk over a mile and a half and his overall form leaves him with plenty to find in this exalted line-up where he needs a few of the big guns to run well below form to have any chance.
7 GREY WATERS – Two wins from four starts over hurdles at Killarney and Listowel but put very firmly in her place at Aintree in a fillies’ Listed hurdle when beaten a hundred and fifty-eight lengths, finishing very tired and virtually pulled up by the line. She is clearly better than that at her best but that may well have taken a lot out of her on the day and whether she has recovered in seventeen days has to be open to question.
8 MINNIE DAHILL – In for a place when falling at the last behind Mitchouka at Punchestown last time out and has won a maiden hurdle at Down Royal from her five starts over obstacles. Overall form doesn’t add up to that of all of her rivals and she seems sure to go off at a huge price here despite the good recent form of the Walsh yard.