Quite a weak mares maiden hurdle for starters here and with slight doubts lingering over the likely favourite Mary Sun having been pulled up on debut (hood applied to allow here to settle better), TARA DYLAN (best price 4-1) is the suggestion to take advantage of any potential hole in Willie Mullins’ inmate. A three-time winner on the Flat and rated 84 at her best, Thomas Mullins’ charge made a pleasing start to her life over hurdles when runner-up to a useful sort in the shape of Glens Harmony at Thurles in October (almost unseated at the last) and with the fourth horse home that day, Canalie (now with Harry Fry) going on to give the form of that race a lift at Taunton this week, it clearly wasn’t a bad effort by this six-year-old filly considering she had no previous experience over timber. Unfortunately brought down in a melee at the second in a hot contest at Leopardstown last time out, hopefully she has suffered no ill effects from that tumble as she looks to have cast-iron credentials to opening her account over hurdles.
SHANNAK (best price 6-1) has been competing against much sterner opposition than those he faces this afternoon, and now returning to his happy hunting ground, the 10-year-old is fancied to shake up some of the main players in the market. A three-time winner at the Co Meath track and one over today’s C&D, Anthony Mullin’s inmate has been running to a decent standard this season despite not troubling the judge and his latest effort when sixth in the Pertemps Qualifier at Leopardstown reads better than the bare result. Usually held up for a late run, the son of Shantou found himself in front coming out of the back straight and having run a race back to front from his normal run-style, he predictably faded on stiff uphill climb to the line on the slow ground. That said, the time figure of the race eventually won by Mine Now was very good and if he’s ridden with his usual restraint this afternoon, there’s a decent chance he will be extremely competitive at the business end.
SNOWY WINTER (NAP) (best price 11-10) clocked an impressive speed figure when landing an ultra-competitive handicap over today’s C&D last time out and she’s fancied to shrug aside top weight. In a race run at a very strong pace throughout thanks to Spinning Melody making it a proper test, Archie Watson’s inmate stayed on very powerfully in the latter stages to pull right away from her field and with the third-placed horse, Epitaph, going on to boost the form subsequently, there’s no reason to disbelieve the numbers. Considering that was her first outing on the surface, it’s plausible to assume there could be more improvement to come and if that turns out to be the case, she could just have far too much class for her rivals.
MR COCO BEAN (best price 13-8) was heavily backed to get the job done on his second outing on this surface last time out and although he did his best to give his supporters palpitations in the early stages, the confidence was well placed in the end. Slow away when running on well to capture a large slice of the pie on his first outing since switching yard, David Barron’s inmate was similarly tardy away from the boxes 13 days ago on his return visit, but whereas he hadn’t the benefit of race fitness and experience of the track to call upon in the first instance, the knowledge he gleaned from that initial outing clearly stood him in better stead. Winning with more in hand than the official margin suggests, the son of Gio Ponti has the look of a very well handicapped horse at present based on that effort and he can be backed with a degree of confidence to follow up in what appears a race of starved of any real quality.