Clear round to put Cee Bee back on festival track
A clear round for high-profile Leopardstown casualty Captain Cee Bee and young Mark Walsh at Naas this afternoon should suffice for this previous Cheltenham hero to book a belated return to next month's festival.
Edward Harty's 2008 Cotswolds hurdle hero has replaced his conqueror that day, Sizing Europe, as ante-post favourite for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy, despite a luckless final-fence exit six weeks ago.
Closing relentlessly on favourite Sizing Europe heading to the final obstacle in the Bord Na Mona Novice Chase, Walsh's mount paid dearly for his sole mistake on only his second start since returning from injury.
Prior to that rare lapse, Captain Cee Bee had defeated subsequent winners Zaarito and An Cathaoir Mor in testing ground over the course and distance of this afternoon's BBA Ireland Opera Hat Novice Chase. Facing just four rivals this time, Harty's pride and joy should compensate connections for his Grade One tumble by shrugging aside Fosters Cross and Swift Counsel.
Elsewhere, this meeting is particularly well supported by owners and trainers as Grey Soldier and Caduceus, as well as the Colm Murphy pair of Frontier Lady and Kimberlite King, all bid to improve on placed efforts last time out.
The opening maiden hurdle, barring accidents, should be at the mercy of French import Grey Soldier, which made a race of it with hotpot Rite Of Passage in a stronger contest at Leopardstown earlier this month.
Another maximum field will be lining up for the Betfair Maiden Hurdle that commences the Jackpot and investors would be well advised to concentrate primarily on Caduceus, Pay The Bounty and Cottage Star.
While Cottage Star comfortably justified favouritism on his debut in a Thurles bumper, he lacks the jumping experience of Caduceus and Pay The Bounty. Although there may be little to choose between the latter pair on this occasion, personal preference is for Caduceus.
The free-running Frontier Lady would certainly not be winning out of turn if coping with veteran Fivestar Alstars, Chiraaz and Grand Lahou in the Naas Handicap Chase, and stable companion Kimberlite King appeals, too, an hour later when having his sights lowered somewhat in the Beginners Chase.