Carberry can take spoils with tip-top Quick Jack
A stunning weekend of jump racing either side of the Irish Sea kicks off with a mouthwatering Boylesports.com Hurdle card at Leopardstown this afternoon.
There is in excess of €500,000 in prize money up for grabs across two days of high-octane activity at the suburban venue, with a further €100,000 bonus to be had if the winner of today's featured handicap goes on to follow up in any race at Cheltenham in March.
As ever, identifying which of 24 runners in the two-mile minefield might be best equipped to pull off such an audacious feat is a monumental task.
Charles Byrnes' deeply progressive Sea Light is on a four-timer off a feather weight under David Casey, as Willie Mullins saddles Blood Cotil and Primroseandblue in his quest to plunder a second €60,000 win purse in three days after On His Own's Thyestes Chase triumph under Paul Townend.
The champion trainer has won two of the last three editions of this inexorable cavalry charge and Townend gets first dibs this time aboard Blood Cotil, with Ruby Walsh at Doncaster for Annie Power.
Bryan Cooper has opted for Charlie Swan's The Gamechanger of three potential partners, while JP McManus is strong-handed. Mark Walsh is on Enda Bolger's fast-improving Gilgamboa, but there are few more interesting than John Kiely's Reizovic.
Alan Crowe's mount caught many a keen eye when fifth on his last start here in December 2011. On his first for 760 days, then, the bookies will be a nervous lot if a JP McManus plunge emerges so soon after Wednesday's Barney Curley coup.
Gordon Elliott's 2013 runner-up Rocky Wednesday is back off a 13lb higher mark this time, but the one that appeals most is Quick Jack.
In off just 9st 12lb after winning in grand style at Cheltenham in November, the unexposed five-year-old has gone up 6lb in the ratings, which seems pretty lenient.
Having not been sighted in his first three hurdle starts, he has now won two on the spin following a Listowel success in September and his form looks tip-top.
Deep Trouble and Three Kingdoms, second and third at Cheltenham, have since won three times between them, so Quick Jack comes here with a gold-standard recommendation.
Granted, last night's odds of 7/2 were skimpy for such a competitive affair, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see Paul Carberry's mount go on to justify them.
The Grade A handicap chase is no less of a puzzle, with 22 set to do battle in that.
While Arthur Moore's smart novice Talbot Road will doubtless be popular, Cairdin appeals for Mags Mullins and the bang in-form Adrian Heskin.
A game second to the reopposing King Vuvuzela here over two miles on St Stephen's Day, the eight-year-old has filled the runner-up berth on both his starts in a visor, having chased home the classy Trifolium at Thurles previously.
He has been placed in each of his five completed outings over fences, and the crucial element here is the step up to two miles and five furlongs, as he has looked a tad one-paced.
Cairdin won a maiden hurdle over two-six in heavy ground at Punchestown, so this trip on the prevailing soft ground could prove right up his street.
Mullins' son Danny gets the nod to thwart Wrath Of Titans on the Ted Walsh-trained Champagne James in the maiden hurdle, while the nap vote goes to the exciting Bright New Dawn.
Dessie Hughes' handsome seven-year-old faces three in the Grade Two novice chase, including Willie Mullins' recent course winner Djakadam.
Noel Meade's Mullaghanoe River and Road To Riches also have the potential to figure, but Bright New Dawn is fancied to prove a bit special.
A keen runner that was forced to make his own pace here over three miles at Christmas, he had nothing left to give when good horses like Carlingford Lough and Morning Assembly challenged.
However, it was only after the last that Bright New Dawn really wilted, so the drop back to two miles and five furlongs here is ideal.
Bryan Cooper also now has the aid of a first-time hood to help his mount settle, which should make his life that bit easier.