Six runners go to post for this fascinating two mile hurdle and with a prize fund of €20,000 up for grabs, it is a race well worth winning. Read on for our expert analysis, runner by runner guide and free tip.
IN SUMMARY: Gordon Elliott is in sublime form at present so a market watch is needed for Flaxen Flare who arrives back after two years off the course. The potential class act in the race could be the Willie Mullins trained Bonbon Au Miel with Ruby Walsh in the saddle but if you bet on him you are betting on potential rather than substance. Our vote goes to GURTEEN who has some solid place form behind talented horses like Min and Anibale Fly, is proven over the trip and on the ground and could represent some value.
1 GURTEEN – Lightly raced seven year old trained by Robert Tyner who has some pretty smart form in the book, including a second place finish behind Min on racecourse debut at Punchestown in December 2015. Min went on to finish second to Altior at the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival a couple of months later. Gurteen saw off Some Neck in a bumper at Leopardstown before beating a very good yardstick in De Plotting Shed in his maiden hurdle, a horse who was second behind Sutton Manor and ahead of Cheltenham Festival winner Supasundae on his most recent start. He was beat over two lengths behind Anibale Fly over fences two starts back at Navan and found the two and a half miles too much of a stretch when a well beat third in a handicap at the same track when last seen. Massive player in this company dropping back to two miles.
2 OICHE MHAITH BOY – Four time winner from twenty runs to date but three of those came on the flat and he has just the one hurdles win to his name from eight starts, which came at Limerick last year over two miles on heavy ground. He ran a solid race here over two and a half miles last time out, going down by a head to Emcon. Heavy ground is a must for this horse so he would appreciate a drop of rain. Others look more persuasive from a betting point of view, he might get a bit outclassed.
3 BONBON AU MIEL – This is Ruby Walsh’s only ride of the day so this Graham Wylie owned and Willie Mullins trained animal deserves a lot of respect. The French import ran three times in France and won his final start for the Macaire stable, hacking up by eight lengths over the extended one mile and one furlong at Fontainebleau. He ran a good race on debut for team Mullins when second to Hidden Cyclone at Leopardstown and he could be anything. Likely to go off a very short price for this, we’re going to go elsewhere in search of some value but he could well hack up.
4 FLAXEN FLARE – Although this horse has been off the track for two years, if any man can get a horse back from a long absence to win, it is Gordon Elliott. This was evident two days ago at Clonmel when Third Opinion came back from a two year absence to win by a staggering twenty-two lengths for the stable in the hands of Jack Kennedy. Flaxen Flare is a course and distance winner and has some very good form in the book but it’s very hard to tip a horse who has been off the track so long so he is best watched.
5 LILSHANE – Nine year old gelding who is now thoroughly exposed and it would be disappointing if he was up to winning this race against some opponents who are open to plenty of progression. Sent off a well backed 7/2 favourite in a handicap at Navan last time out, he was bitterly disappointing and was eventually well beat. Stepping into company against what could be a couple of graded horse in Gurteen and Bonbon Au Miel, he really looks up against it today.
6 HEAD TURNER – Heavy ground specialist who has won handicaps at distances ranging from two miles to two and a half miles. Won over two miles at Limerick in December before finishing tailed off in a big Grade A handicap at Leopardstown. She ran as well as could have been expected at the same track when last seen and looks a very unlikely winner in this line up today.