In great form over hurdles in the summer, Coolfighter is surely capable of much better than what he has been showing so far this season for the Dooly yard. He won four straight races over timber last summer, starting off on a mark of 102 before he shot up to 114 by the time he gained his fourth win. That last win was at Downpatrick in August when he showed brilliant determination not to allow the challengers past. He has returned to timber after some solid efforts on the flat since, but he has not carried over that good form when well beaten at both Galway and Fairyhouse the last twice. As a result, he has been dropped two pounds in the handicap and, judging by his progressive profile earlier this year, he should be capable of a big run in a race like this under David Splaine. He is likely to be on the premises with conditions to suit and he has to be respected.
Running consistently well this season for Tom George, J P McManus’s Stamp Your Feet has the blessing of Mark Walsh and looks booked to go close again if improving on his latest effort. He has form figures of 1431 this season and has not been far away on either of those defeats, with his penultimate third at Ludlow no disgrace behind I’m A Game Changer and Dino Velvet. He took a deserved victory last time out in game style, running on late to swoop by and claim the prize and he has consequently been raised five pounds. That obviously makes this more challenging, but he remains with potential and he has conditions to suit. He therefore should be making a bold build for a trainer who has tasted success at this meeting in the past.
Although not seen over hurdles since August, Buyer Beware should be happier over these obstacles after a decent effort over fences and two poor efforts on the flat. He was running consistently well over hurdles last summer with form figures of 22442, going very close off a five pound higher mark at Cartmel when last seen over timber in August. He had a fitness run on the flat 15 days ago at Catterick, so he should be ready to go in this. Roger Loughran is a good jockey booking, so with conditions to suit he should be on the premises for Patrick Holmes.
Back down in trip, Old Castletown should be much happier than he has been the last twice and this versatile sort can give a good effort for Ted Walsh under Ruby. The eight-year-old has raced mainly over fences in his career, but he is a good hurdler too. His hurdling capability was proven earlier this season when a good second at Fairyhouse in October over today’s distance, headed in the final stride. He has finished midfield on his last three starts and he was last seen over timber at Naas in November when seventh, but not beaten far after being wide round the bend. He is now down to a mark of 105 and this step back in trip should suit, with the better ground also perfect for him. He can go close and should not be underestimated.
Finishing second behind Mega Fortune at Down Royal back in November, Bobabout can do better on handicap debut for the Harrington yard after some recent mediocre runs. The four-year-old has shown definite promise in maiden/novice races, winning on his second hurdling start and he has been largely consistent since then. Although his latest hurdling run at Fairyhouse when pitched into a useful Grade 3 was perhaps a step too far. He starts off in handicaps off a mark of 116 which could be generous and he has conditions to suit. He should be involved for the placings under Robbie Power.