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Closutton, Bagenalstown, Carlow, Ireland
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Leopardstown 6th February

We have four runners in the Grade 1 Novice Hurdle over 2m 6f. Shadow Rider (Mark Walsh) won over 2m 4f at Limerick last time and will be suited by the extra two furlongs here. He needs to improve and we think he will. Stattler (Danny) looked good when winning over 2m 4f here at Christmas and we are aiming him for the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham. He will benefit from this longer trip and the testing ground. Gaillard Du Mesnil (Paul) also won impressively over 2m 4f here at Christmas. He didn’t look he was stopping at the finish so he should be fine over this trip. We don’t think this demanding ground will be any harm and he must have a big chance. Ganapathi (Bryan Cooper) was second over 2 miles at Punchestown last time and will appreciate the extra six furlongs today. However, he will have to improve considerably if he is to trouble the principals here.

We run three in the Grade 1 Chase over 2 miles. Chacun Pour Soi (Paul) won over this course and distance at Christmas and has come out of that race well. He won this race last year and has a lot going for him this time around. We have been very happy with his homework and he looks the one to beat. Min (Patrick) has won this race on two occasions. He has a little bit to find on ratings but he loves this track and will handle the ground. Tornado Flyer (Bryan Cooper) was disappointing over 3 miles here last time and Bryan suggested he might be better over a shorter trip. Hopefully he will get a decent share of the big prize money on offer.

We have four in the Grade 1 Novice Chase over 2m 1f. Blackbow (Danny) was third behind Energumene at Naas last time and needs to improve his jumping if he is to get closer today. This should be valuable experience for him. Energumene (Paul) has done nothing wrong in two runs over fences and with a bit of luck he should make it three from three. He’s a great jumper and will take all the beating here. Franco De Port (Bryan Cooper) won over this course and distance last time and is not out of it. He will relish the testing conditions. Unexcepted (Mark Walsh) might be inconvenienced by the soft ground but has the credentials to take his place in this line-up.

We have two in the Matheson Handicap Chase over 2m 1f. Pont Aven (Danny) ran very well when second at Fairyhouse last month and a first time hood could enable him to go one better today. Andalusa (Bryan Cooper) is having her first run in a handicap and could suffer on this ground.

We have three runners in the Grade 1 Irish Champion Hurdle over 2 miles. Saint Roi (Mark Walsh) has to put his run here behind Sharjah at Christmas behind him but we think he has every chance of doing so. This slower ground might help bring out the best in him. Saldier (Paul) was sixth in the same race but he ran like he needed it. He has improved since and we are expecting a much better show today. Sharjah (Patrick) was very good here at Christmas and if he can reproduce that form here he should be very competitive. However, the recent rain won’t suit him as much as the other two.

We run six in the 2 mile Grade B Handicap Hurdle. Paul has picked Buildmeupbuttercup but she has it all to do with top-weight. She’s in great form at home but this ground probably won’t be to her liking. Stratum (Brian Hayes) is having his first run since a winter break. This trip is a bit short for him and he won’t like the ground. He’s probably best watched. Blue Sari (Donie McInerney) has yet to come back to his Cheltenham Bumper form and will find this tough with the weight he is set to carry. Ciel De Neige (Jody McGarvey) finally got his head in front at Limerick over Christmas. He’s fit and well and this trip will suit. Tiger Tap Tap (Danny) ran better than his finishing position would suggest here at Christmas but he might prefer better ground. Uradel (Aubrey McMahon) is back after a long break and will find this tough. However, he has a nice weight which will be reduced further by Aubrey’s 7lb claim. Hybery is only third reserve but has a feather weight and could be great each-way value if he gets a run.

We have three runners in the Grade 2 Bumper. Patrick has elected to ride Kilcruit who was very impressive when winning at Navan last time. This similar galloping track will suit and he has been pleasing us at home. Ramillies (Barry O’Neill) impressed us with the ease of his win over this course and distance last time. With this sure to be a true test of stamina, he looks certain to figure prominently. Whatdeawant (Tom Hamilton) won nicely on his debut at Fairyhouse last month and was probably good for a few more lengths after running green. He should have learned a lot from that experience and shouldn’t be too far away today.

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