IN SUMMARY: A tricky Handicap Hurdle to sort out and hopes will be high that KING’S BANDIT can recapture the form he showed as a Novice when trained by Donald McCain. He should be primed for his comeback after a year off and his trainer Gordon Elliott is really on top form right now. Emcon put in a nice performance behind Airlie Beach at the end of September and, if building on that, has a real chance of going close. Gallant Oscar should also run well, but would ideally prefer farther.
1 Cliff House – Only ninth of 12 in his last race over 1 mile 6 furlongs at Killarney back in August and hasn’t been seen since then. Useful hurdler on his day, but slightly below form on his last start over hurdles at Galway. Absence tempers enthusiasm in what will no doubt be a strongly run race. Easy to ignore this time around.
2 Captainofthefleet – Last win came here in March 2015 but has certainly lost his way since then. Finished a distant sixth of 11 runners at Limerick back in May and will find this difficult after six months off. Others are more persuasive.
3 King’s Bandit – Has left Oliver Sherwood and previously trained as a Novice Hurdler when under the care of Donald McCain where he was 3-3. His last run came in a Handicap Chase at Doncaster last year when well behind. Has been off the track for 11 months and makes his Handicap Hurdle debut today reverting from Chase. Has a good chance on best hurdling form and wouldn’t rule out a big showing with Gordon Elliott in such fantastic form.
4 Master Appeal – Finished fifth of 14 in a Handicap Hurdle at Naas two weeks ago which was a decent run after winning at Punchestown over 2 miles 4 furlongs in October. Would prefer better ground and will find his mark tough, but should give it a good go under a jockey who rides this track particularly well.
5 Our Vinnie – Has won here before back in 2012, getting up by a short head to beat Grand National winner Rule The World by half a length. Followed that up at Limerick in a five runner race and only had six runs since then, the last coming back in January when finishing fourth behind Sambremont (Willie Mullins). Switches from chase to hurdles today and has been off the track for almost a year. Hard to know what to expect on return as he has clearly had his issues, but he is highly capable on his day and the market will speak as to his chances. However, his absence causes a worry.
6 Gallant Oscar – Looked as if he was coming with a menacing run when 16/1 for the Grand National at Aintree back in April, but ultimately unshipped his rider. Has been off for seven months and has dropped significantly in trip. He’s on a good hurdling mark for his return and, although another tilt at the Grand National looks likely, may just be outdone for pace today by some of these. Each-way shout.
7 Another Rebel – Fell in a Handicap Chase at Galway 20 days ago when going well and has been a decent chaser on several occasions. Finished second at Cork and Sligo, having previously won here in March over 2 miles 4 furlongs. Switches back to hurdles today and is a better chaser than hurdler. Overcame a long absence by falling last month at Galway when never in contention and hard to envisage troubling these today.
8 Emcon – Has run three times already this season, winning once at Listowel when comfortably winning by three lengths from Terence O’Brien’s Ballyadam Brook. Only fifth behind Airlie Beach at Galway latest, but that was still a step in the right direction and he looks to be competitive on best form.
9 Oiche Mhaith Boy – Was decent over hurdles last term, landing a Maiden Hurdle at Limerick in March by three lengths before going on to a hat-trick of wins on the flat in the spring. Didn’t show much in two hurdles runs since his comeback this season and was below par again last time at Gowran. Reverts back to hurdles today and mark looks about right.
10 Go It Alone – Won a couple of Handicap Hurdles in impressive fashion earlier in the year, winning by eight lengths at Thurles in February and then followed up with another five and a half length win at Tipperary in April. Has had a seven month break since, but he was visually impressive in both race and looks a progressive type for his likeable trainer. Big player. (Non Runner)
11 Seskinane – Has won only once in 22 runs under NH rules with only win coming in 2013. Ran creditably in last two races in the spring but needs a career best in this company today.
12 Voisey’s Bay – Easily won a maiden hurdle by foru and three quarter lengths at Tipperary in 2015 and was pulled up on final start that Summer at Galway. Hooded for the first time today and has been off for 17 months. Tough assignment to get involved after such a long lay-off.
13 Definite Soldier – Has run six times over hurdles already this season, winning twice at Tramore in June and by half a length at Wexford last time out putting up a career-best. Reverts to hurdles from chase today and hard to fancy off current mark.