Champs can leave rivals in his wake at Limerick
Published 26/12/2011 | 05:00
Sir Des Champs is the star attraction on the opening leg of Limerick's busy four-day Christmas Festival this afternoon.
The smart Willie Mullins-trained five-year-old tackles just three other rivals in a disappointing field for the Greenmount Park Novice Chase.
Reunited with Mullins' nephew Emmet, who steered him to victory at Cheltenham in March, Sir Des Champs should be hard to beat in this Grade Two, though he can expect a tougher test than when coasting up at Fairyhouse recently.
Mouse Morris' Four Commanders, second to Last Instalment in a similar contest in November, is no slouch, and neither is the mare Knockfierna.
Having progressed to win her last two starts for Charles Byrnes, that one has confirmed the ability that saw her score twice in graded company over flights, so she is not to be sniffed at.
Byrnes could get on the scoresheet with Trifolium in the preceding O'Kelly Bros Demolition and Environmental Contactors Hurdle. Like Sir Des Champs and Four Commanders, this one is a Gigginstown Stud representative and recorded an impressive success at the third time of asking over hurdles at Cork two weeks ago.
While Plan A is the horse in the five-runner field that boasts the best previous form, he must bounce back from a below-par effort at Cheltenham in October.
If he does, Andrew McNamara could have an easy time of things, but the Niall Madden-ridden Trifolium is still fancied to have a little more scope for improvement.
Madden can also take the Guinness Hurdle on Fahamore. Despite its 15 contenders, this is a poor race, with Whiskey Hall one that might show up well at a price.
Fahamore is making its handicap debut off a rating of 101 and that doesn't appear punitive. In three maiden hurdles, he has never been worse than fourth and was beaten less than two lengths behind Tackmaster at Wexford last time.
Elsewhere on the card, Conna-based Jimmy Mangan has serious claims with three of his four runners.
Castle Wings, second at Gowran Park 11 days ago, is overdue a bit of luck under his son Paddy in the opener.
Quarryvale, a 25-length winner at Thurles on Thursday, can defy a penalty in the handicap chase, with Kilcrea a leading prospect in the bumper.
Fifth in a maiden hurdle, that one will be partnered by the trainer's daughter, Jane.