IN SUMMARY: Mengli Khan has improved rapidly this season and was impressive when winning last time but this looks a deep race and he may be worth opposing at a short price. Real Steel was excellent on his Irish debut but it may be worth siding with another Willie Mullins trained runner in WHISKEY SOUR. He only had to be pushed out to win on his hurdles debut and has had some very smart performances on the flat since then.
1 HARDLINE – A consistent type who has been in the first three in four of his six hurdles runs and got his head in front on two of those occasions. He was beaten a long way when third behind Mengli Khan in the Royal Bond however and is very much the second string today.
2 LE RICHEBOURG – A useful bumper horse who was three from three over hurdles before finding the Royal Bond a bit too hot last time out. He was reasonably well fancied for that however and the ground wouldn’t have suited so it would be foolish to write him off just yet.
3 MAKITORIX – Was an extremely easy winner on his hurdles debut before immediately stepping up to Grade 1 class where he was pulled up behind the impressive Mengli Khan. He looks the stable’s fourth string here based on jockey bookings and will need to improve significantly.
4 MENGLI KHAN – A talented flat horse who has really come into his own over hurdles so far this season and comes here in search of a four timer after a five and a half length demolition job in the Royal Bond. He is easily the pick on form and will be hard to beat but there are some interesting contenders in opposition so it won’t be a cake walk.
5 REAL STEEL – Paul Townend had the choice of four Mullins horses here including the unbeaten Sharjah but has opted with this gelding. He was devilishly impressive on his hurdling debut when quickening away from a potentially very useful horse to win easily, the two were miles clear and he looks Mengli Khan’s main danger.
6 SHARJAH – The apparent Willie Mullins second string with Patrick jocked up despite having won both of his starts so far in great style. This is his first try in graded company but he has certainly looked a classy one so far and should put it up to the market principles.
7 WHISKEY SOUR – The fourth of the Willie Mullins contenders who won his maiden hurdle before switching back to the flat and winning two competitive handicaps in a row. He is 98 rated on the flat so could really be anything and has to be taken seriously taking a big step up in class for his master trainer.