Closutton, Bagenalstown, Carlow, Ireland
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Leopardstown 29th December

Kilcruit (Paul) goes for the competitive looking 2m 4f maiden hurdle. He was very disappointing when beaten easily by Largy Debut at Cork earlier this month and the winner let the form down when pulling up here yesterday. However, our horse seems fine and has been working well since. He will like this trip and we expect him to go very well.

We have four runners in the 2m 4f mares’ hurdle. Paul has picked Shewearsitwell who is returning from a long break. Arguably, she has the best form on offer here and she has been in good form at home. If back to her best, she should run a big race. Dysart Diamond (Bryan Cooper) likes this track and looks like she wants this trip. However, there is more rain forecast and that is a worry for her. Finest Evermore (Sean O’Keeffe) is another who has been off the track for quite a while and might find this tough going. My Sister Sarah (Brian Hayes) has a good rating but possibly needs 3 miles these days.

We run two in the 3 mile Grade 1 Novice Chase. Bacardys (Danny) is in his third season novice chasing but as a grade one winner over hurdles it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he went close here. Paul has chosen Ontheropes who has the rating to be involved. He won the Munster National but was then a bit disappointing when fourth in the Ladbroke Trophy Chase at Newbury. Any further rain will enhance his chance.

We have three declared for the Grade 1 Matheson Hurdle over 2 miles. It’s hard to look beyond Sharjah (Patrick) who has won this race for the last three years and is coming here off a win in the Morgiana at Punchestown last month. Saint Roi (Rachael Blackmore) is having his first run of the season but goes well fresh. He jumps well and is in good form. Echoes In Rain (Paul) ran too free in the Morgiana but the faster pace here will be a big help. She will be suited by the ground but has to improve a bit to win today.

We have two in the winners’ bumper. The Nice Guy (Patrick) beat Santinito on his debut at Fairyhouse last month and Santinito went close when second to Embassy Gardens here on Monday. With normal improvement from a first run, he must have a great chance here. Flemencello (Jody Townend) likes soft ground and if the forecast rain arrives it would put her right in the picture here. She has been working well.

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