CAUSE OF CAUSES, such an impressive winner of a competitive edition of the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot last month, is one of just four runners to vie for a €20,000 winner's prize in tomorrow's conditions hurdle at Navan.
In a hurdling career that began with a last-flight fall at Gowran Park in February 2012, Gordon Elliott's five-year-old has already squeezed in 11 starts.
A four-time winner that finished a staying-on third in the old Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham prior to Ascot and was also just denied glory in the Galway Hurdle, he remains progressive. Moreover, despite all his experience, Cause Of Causes is still a novice, something that his shrewd handler is sure to utilise at a higher level soon.
In tomorrow's two-miler, he is joint top-rated with Midnight Game, whose trainer Willie Mullins is also responsible for Pickapocketortwo, which has an earlier date at Punchestown today.
In two outings this term, Midnight Game has impressed to varying degrees with the manner of his victories. He is starting to build on last year's promise, but the suspicion is that Cause Of Causes will prove more battle-hardened now.
The one fear is that this could turn into a farcically run contest, but it's hard to see how any of the three main contenders would benefit from that.
Hisaabaat, a dual Grade One winner last term, was probably the most accomplished on the Flat, and he may have the boot to take advantage in a slow-run affair.
Still, he looked a long way off his best on his Naas reappearance behind Jezki, so Cause Of Causes still strikes as being the most robust option under Davy Condon.
Elliott has the hat-trick-seeking Tarquinius in the €27,500 Foxrock Handicap Chase. Rich Revival and Fever Pitch are others with winning form in this two-and-a-half-miler, but In Great Form gets the nod to collect under Mark Walsh. Francis Flood's JP McManus-owned eight-year-old obliged twice in testing ground this time last term.
He has been placed twice since and while only fifth in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown, he ran really well for a long way that day.
In the two-mile handicap hurdle, champion jockey Davy Russell can collect on Andrew Slattery's Prince Of Milan, which lines out off 20lb less than he would if this were a chase, despite a gallant effort when third to Speed Dial in a decent race at Fairyhouse a month ago.
For the second day in a row, the nap goes the way of a Tom Mullins-McManus-Walsh horse. Alderwood is the one to keep on side in what is a weak beginners' chase, after last year's Grade One victor showed plenty of promise on two previous tries over fences.