IN SUMMARY: A crackerjack of a contest is expected despite the small field with what looks on paper to be a match between Death Duty and FOOTPAD. The selection impressed many a good judge when winning on his chasing bow at Navan and although he does stay further he should have too many gears for his market rival over this trip.
1 ANY SECOND NOW – Decent enough gelding rated 142 over hurdles and with just the two starts over fences, finishing second in both. Last time out the five-year-old was beaten four and a quarter lengths over two and a half miles at Navan with the third five and a half lengths further back. Open to more improvement but this looks his toughest ask yet.
2 AVENIR D’UNE VIE – One win from three starts over fences last time out when making all the running over two miles at Punchestown and beating Saturnas by two and a half lengths with plenty left in the tank if needed. This is moving up to another level and he may well simply set the pace for the better horses to hunt him down but if he can improve further and gets an easy lead he may prove difficult to catch up the home straight.
3 DEATH DUTY – Rated as high as 150 over hurdles and the winner of a point to point, two bumpers, and four form six over hurdles, he has now switched to fences and is unbeaten after three starts at Tipperary, Punchestown, and Fairyhouse, the last when seeing off Rathvinden by three and a quarter lengths at odds of 8/11. That was over two and a half miles and he was staying on strongly at the end suggesting this two miles is the minimum for the six-year-old these days but while he remains unbeaten he has to remain a force regardless of the trip.
4 FOOTPAD – Willie Mullins has won four of the last six runnings of this contest and has every chance of another victory here with the five-year-old son of Creachadoir who was rated as high as 157 over hurdles and won his first and only race over fences at Navan when making all the running. There is a risk he may be pressed for the early lead by Avenir D’Une Vie but has won from off the pace over the smaller obstacles and is tactically adaptable and that may be enough to see him come home in front today.
5 JETT – One win over fences at Thurles from seven attempts and a perfectly respectable second to the very useful Tombstone last time out at Navan beaten less than four lengths at the line. Clearly a decent sort with more wins in him over the larger obstacles but that form comes up short compared to some of these and with the Jessica Harrington stable short of winners lately this really ought to prove beyond him.