A former winner of the Galway Plate, LORD SCOUNDREL still remains well treated a present for Gordon Elliot and can build on a promising seasonal debut at Galway in the Plate. He was mid-division for most of the way in that race in August, taking closer order at the tenth before being badly hampered by a faller at the last. He’d have finished much closer without that and considering he was returning from a four month absence, he should come on for that run. He stays further than this so the distance is fine and heavy ground is of no concern either as he relishes it. Chris Meehan takes off a very useful seven pounds and he can take a sixth career victory over fences.
The combination of Mullins and Walsh are always very popular, especially when the horse carries the colours of the Riccis. Arbre De Vie has threatened to take one of the major chases in recent years but has always fallen short, with his record of one win from eight chasing starts proving that. He gained his first success over fences on his latest start at Galway in a three runner affair, defeating Shaneshill who made a very bad blunder five out. He clearly appreciated the rain softened ground that day and he gets that surface again which is a big plus, with the step up in trip another positive. He’s likely to run a good race off a mark of 150, which is fair on the best of his efforts and needs to be considered.
A lightly raced mare for Joseph O’Brien, Slowmotion has been in great form this year and looks sure to play a key role in this contest under Mark Walsh. She won three starts ago at Fairyhouse in April before a very good second in a race at the Punchestown Festival in the same month. She was another to return in the Galway Plate, finishing third after avoiding the trouble over the last, though she made no impression towards the finish. She likely has more to come in this sphere and a three pound rise isn’t excessive for her latest run, with heavy ground no problem on the best of her efforts. She’ll be around come the finish and needs to be considered.
Gigginstown caused controversy with how many runners they entered into the Irish Grand National and they have five runners in this race. Their second best challenger looks to be A Toi Phil, who is a Grade 2 winner so brings a touch of class to this race for Gordon Elliott. He is more than capable in handicaps despite lumbering big weights, last seen finishing fourth in the Galway Plate back in August. He was slightly hampered at the last that day and a two pound rise looks fair based on that. He comes up against some better handicapped rivals which is a concern but he handles the ground well and Davy Russell aboard, so a big run for the placings would be no surprise.
The only British raider in the race, Viva Steve bids to bounce back after two lacklustre runs earlier this year. That said, he goes well fresh, winning on reappearance last season and he’s only four pounds above his last winning mark at present. That win came on softer ground at Ayr in November, showing his stamina to pour it on from the front, making all in great style. He was racing in Grade 3 company towards the back end of last season so connections clearly think lots of him and at his best, he is sure to play a leading role in this, especially if he goes from the front.