Just the five runners go to post for this novices’ hurdle but it is still a very competitive affair. Ruby Walsh has a ride for his father and interestingly, Daryl Jacob is set to travel across the Irish Sea for one ride. Read on for our expert analysis and free tip for this two and a half mile contest worth a valuable €16,000.
IN SUMMARY: Kalopsia has some smart form in the book but she will have to improve on her 50 length beating last time out, especially giving weight to the field. Gordon Elliott has a sublime record at the track and Daryl Jacob rides Cadeau Du Bresil for Simon Munir who could be hard to beat but a chance is taken with USURP (10/1). Owned by Gigginstown House Stud, he is very lightly raced and although he has to prove his effectiveness on the ground, he looks the one to be on today.
1 KALOPSIA – Six year old Flemensfirth mare trained by Joseph O’Brien in the J.P. McManus colours and she has the burden of giving weight to all of her rivals. A winner of four of her fourteen starts, she showed a real liking for soft ground at Thurles in December, running out an 11 length winner of a mares’ hurdle. Flemensfirth’s love cut in the ground so any rain would aid her cause. She was beat 50 lengths on her latest start at Navan behind Thirsty Work and will need to up her game massively to take a hand here, even if the five pound claimer J.J. Slevin makes life a little easier.
2 CADEAU DU BRESIL – Gordon Elliott has an incredible return at this track and he saddles two runners of the five in the field. Interestingly, Daryl Jacob has flown over from the United Kingdom to ride this five year old gelding for his retainer Simon Munir. With low mileage on the clock, he has buckets of room for improvement and he ran an eye-catching race at Navan when second of the twenty runners behind Thirsty Work last time out. He had Kalopsia well behind on that occasion so she has a lot of work to do to reverse the form. Solid credentials and must be a massive player, especially as Daryl Jacob has a 42% win strike rate over the past two weeks.
3 CHARLIE STOUT – Consistent six year old gelding trained by Shane Nolan who justified favouritism at Navan last time out, beating Lagostovegas by a short head in what was a thrilling finish. There isn’t much between him and Cadeau Du Bresil judged on their form behind Thirsty Work (both beat a few lengths by the same horse) and he looks sure to give another very good account of himself today. One or two of his rivals may be a little more progressive and the two handicaps he won were rather poor but Patrick Corbett takes off a valuable three pounds and he will also appreciate any rain that may fall.
4 USURP – The Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud combination is always one worth following, especially at this course where they dominate matters. Ridden by the vastly improve D.J. Mullins, this is the least exposed runner in the field with just the four runs under his belt, very little for a six year old. He won his maiden at Fairyhouse last October but that was on good to firm ground, so he does have to prove he enjoys more testing conditions. He travelled well for a long way at Limerick when last seen but he couldn’t finish off his race on very heavy ground. It’s currently yielding at Down Royal (good to soft for the UK followers) so conditions should be fine as long as the rain stays away. He receives three pounds from his stable-mate and looks sure to go well for powerful connections.
5 ARETESTONE – Top jockey at the track Ruby Walsh takes the mount on this horse for his father Ted and although he has the services of the best jockey around, he has work to do on official form figures to play a part in the finish. His sole success from eleven starts came at Wexford in a very weak maiden hurdle back in October but he is taken to reverse the form with Charlie Stout judged on their meeting behind winner That’s A Wrap at Navan in November. Aretestone was 3 lengths behind Charlie Stout on that occasion but there is a stone swing in the weights. They met last time out at Navan too and Aretestone was half a length behind that rival, giving him a pound. Six pound swing for that run so he should reverse the form but may struggle to beat the two Elliott runners.