13:10 Leopardstown

Course bumper winner BALLYBAWN BELTER is 2lb out of the handicap but is unexposed. Her jumping technique was ordinary at first but finished strongly at Fairyhouse and while she steps up markedly in grade, looks better than 106. Rioga Choice was a 17-lengths maiden hurdle winner and beat Liberty Dance 3.5 lengths in a hot hurdle last November, when receiving a bump from that rival. Liberty Dance subsequently won at Listed level but Rioga Choice is 8lb better off, less exposed, with today's race likely to have been a medium-term target. Returning Mark Walsh rides Risk Belle at a low 10st5lb and while she has run well twice in Ireland, having won both French starts, is the youngest runner. Stablemate Historique Reconce, a half-sister to Chacun Pour Soi, had ordinary French form and while she subsequently shaped well at Tramore, the beaten horses are mediocre. She returns from a break but can compete from 116. Tullypole Annie is 8lb higher than when winning here over Christmas while De Lady In Red hasn't run since falling in last year's renewal. Gaoth Chuil ran well here during Christmas and drops in distance.
Prediction : 1st Ballybawn Belter 2nd Rioga Choice 3rd Liberty Dance

13:40 Leopardstown

MIGHTY POTTER might succeed against Willie Mullins and has maintained top form for most of his career. Two jumping errors resulted in him pulling up at Cheltenham last March but he quickly bounced back, is a three-time Grade 1 winner who is suited by conditions and defeated Gaillard Du Mesnil in the Drinmore. Gaillard Du Mesnil subsequently won a Christmas Grade 1 but is open to less progression being a second-season novice and might prefer three-miles. James Du Berlais was narrowly beaten in two French Grade 1s hurdles, and while his Fairyhouse form is nothing special, scored in taking style. However he has been lightly-raced in recent years and drying ground mightn't suit. Kilcruit was a brilliant bumper winner at this festival in 2021 but has failed to match that form over jumps. Adamantly Chosen was beaten 28 lengths in the Drinmore and was Grade 1 placed over Christmas while I Am Maximus needs to improve.
Prediction : 1st Mighty Potter 2nd Gaillard Du Mesnil 3rd James Du Berlais

14:10 Leopardstown

BLUE LORD has top form and is suited by conditions. A huge horse, he now seems to be coming to himself and won impressively here at Christmas. Gentleman De Mee was beaten 41 lengths then but blundered at halfway and is better judged on his Aintree defeat of high-class Edwardstone last April, and can chase home the selection. Dunvegan finished second in last year's renewal and ran well in a recent handicap but was three lengths behind Gentleman De Mee in December's Tingle Creek. Sceau Royal showed high-class chase form last spring but his only Grade 1 success was in 2017 and is now 11. Fastorslow won a 2019 chase so is difficult to place, and with his hurdles' rating seemingly kept in waiting, runs in an unsuitable race.
Prediction : 1st Blue Lord 2nd Gentleman De Mee 3rd Dunvegan

14:40 Leopardstown

INDIGO BREEZE is unexposed on handicap chase debut. Capable over hurdles, he has progressed well over fences and chased home Paddy Neville's subsequent Grade 2 winner The Real Whacker in November. He finished eighth of 23 in the Coral Cup with a UK rating of 140 and now being a better chaser, should compete from 133. Maskada defeated a subsequent Dan Moore Chase winner to win a Grade B chase in December and being ground-versatile, should get involved from 9lb higher. Real Steel won the Paddy Power over Christmas but is 6lb higher and is closely enough matched with Foxy Jacks (which finished fifth), Ballyshannon Rose (seventh, and well beaten subsequently), Farceur Du Large (eighth, now runs in first-time blinkers) and Take All (ninth). Vanilier, winner of the 2021 Albert Bartlett Hurdle, drops from top class company on handicap debut and wears first-time cheekpieces. Now Where Or When is 7lb higher than when winning at Down Royal while Rambranlt'jac was well held in the Troytown but would appreciate drying ground.
Prediction : 1st Indigo Breeze 2nd Maskada 3rd Real Steel

15:10 Leopardstown

Honeysuckle's unbeaten record came to an end last time and while she's been an outstanding performer in recent years she may be vulnerable here against a classy young pretender. The mare stopped quickly enough at the last when third to Teahupoo in the Hatton's Grace and may have needed the run but it's the first sign of a chink in her armour and connections even raising the possibility of retirement afterwards isn't the most positive sign. STATE MAN really looks on an upward curve and it's hard to knock what he has done this season with two cosy victories in the Morgiana and Matheson Hurdles. He hasn't really been tested to date and it will be fascinating to see how he fares if Honeysuckle does recapture anywhere near her best. Willie Mullins was delighted with the run of Vauban when he chased home State Man here over Christmas and there looks sure to be plenty of improvement from him. It would be no surprise if he played a bigger role now.
Prediction : 1st State Man 2nd Vauban 3rd Honeysuckle

15:40 Leopardstown

FACILE VEGA didn't impress everyone with the manner of his victory here at Christmas but he was always doing enough without engaging top gear and can prove his class again. The Walk In The Park gelding was a brilliant bumper performer last season and hasn't really been tested yet in a couple of hurdles outings. It will be interesting to see how former Derby hope High Definition measures up here. His jumping left a bit to be desired on his hurdling debut on St Stephen's Day but he was a decisive winner in the end and can only improve from that experience. Irish Point has already been placed twice at the highest level over timber and he should be involved for the prize-money again here.
Prediction : 1st Facile Vega 2nd High Definition 3rd Irish Point

16:10 Leopardstown

GAELIC WARRIOR looks the standout here despite having the burden of top-weight. The Maxios gelding was a touch unfortunate not to win the 'Boodles' at Cheltenham last year when a bit green on his first outing for Willie Mullins. He has had a couple of easy tasks this season but obviously has a big engine and looks a bit better than handicap company. His tendency to jump right would be the one concern. Hey Johnny improved from his seasonal debut to win nicely at Thurles a fortnight ago. He has a nice low weight in this and could run a big race. The four-year-old Common Practice is a pound out of the handicap but is another interesting one with a light weight. He has been running behind some very smart juveniles of late and may not be badly treated off a mark of 128.
Prediction : 1st Gaelic Warrior 2nd Hey Johnny 3rd Common Practice

16:40 Leopardstown

MARIE PHILIPPE looked like she would improve plenty from her first run, when winning at Fairyhouse just before Christmas, and can step up to land a nice prize now. The Flemensfirth mare kicked clear over a furlong from home then before tiring a little in the closing stages. She's a big mare and there looks scope for plenty more from her. Patrick Mullins chooses Fun Fun Fun from the two Mullins runners and she has to be respected. She makes her first start since winning a Sligo bumper in effortless fashion back in October and has since been snapped up by leading owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. Last year's winner Lily Du Berlais, in the same colours as Fun Fun Fun, is back to defend her crown. She got home in a very tight finish 12 months ago in a strong looking renewal. She was a decent second on her return this season in a Listed event at Navan in late November and it's no surprise to see her aimed at this again.
Prediction : 1st Marie Philippe 2nd Fun Fun Fun 3rd Lily Du Berlais