Competitive Edge to keep O'Dwyer on upward curve
IN the middle of a fine campaign that has already seen him equal his previous best tally of 11 winners, Conor O'Dwyer can clock up number 12 with Competitive Edge at Punchestown today.
The five-year-old, O'Dwyer's only runner on the low-key card, tackles 14 rivals in the two-mile maiden hurdle, with the useful Double Double needing to concede weight all round.
Charles O'Brien's Sakhee gelding has finished second in two hurdling starts, although he was disqualified at Leopardstown last time after Andrew McNamara failed to weigh in.
That effort behind Burn And Turn was perfectly respectable but Hawk Flight and Tennis Cap, which were third and fourth in that contest, hardly advertised the form after both were beaten at short odds at Navan on Sunday.
Competitive Edge, however, found only Make Your Mark too strong at the Dublin venue at the end of December, before finishing a fair fourth behind Aupcharlie there at the end of January.
Maller Tree, less than a length in front of Competitive Edge in third, franked that form nicely by scoring on Sunday, so O'Dwyer's Mark Walsh-ridden contender is napped to collect now.
Davy Russell, still 15 to the good over Ruby Walsh at the top of the riders' table, is expected to edge further clear this afternoon, with three of his mounts fancied over one of Walsh's.
In the opening conditions race, Walsh partners the 2008 Champion Bumper hero Cousin Vinny on its first start for Willie Mullins in nearly two years, but Dessie Hughes' Tofino Bay gets the nod for Russell on the back of a recent second to Stephanie Kate at Clonmel.
The Roger McGrath-trained Thynetocatcher is another of Russell's that appeals in the mares' maiden hurdle, with Francis Flood's Too Late To Sell a tentative selection for him in the subsequent handicap.
Walsh can pinch one back on Mullins' Maggie Connolly in the two-and-a-half-mile conditions hurdle, though the frustrating Psycho would be a threat at his best.
Later on, it will be fascinating to see how Kauto Grand Mogol fares in the four-year-olds' bumper. Liz Doyle's son of Priolo is a half-brother to none other than Kauto Star.