Make A Track to set up Russell double
The lightly raced Staying Article will today bid to concede weight to all bar one of his 29 rivals in what is a hugely competitive renewal of the Boylesports.com Hurdle today.
Edward O'Grady's seven-year-old has run just four times, so he faces a daunting task in the €60,000 feature on the first part of Leopardstown's inaugural January Jumps Weekend.
A narrow winner from Montan at Fairyhouse in November, Paddy Mangan's mount's only defeat came when second to Savello on his seasonal bow.
Staying Article has clearly been preserved for this prestigious two-mile handicap, but it's hard to envisage him being quite good enough to deliver O'Grady his first success in the race, given the quality of the opposition.
Scottish Boogie, due to be partnered for a first time by Andrew Lynch, is the one that punters have been keen to be on.
Charles Byrnes, whose Dromlease Express won this in 2004, saddles the favourite, which took third here last time. Cass Bligh, the winner then, reopposes, as does the runner-up Citizenship, the fourth Cothrom Na Feinne and the sixth Strain Of Fame.
The last-named is one of four Willie Mullins-trained contenders, while the champion trainer's former inmate Temlett is the sole English-based runner on its debut for Pat Murphy.
Charlie Swan, who rode Grinkov to victory for Pat Hughes 11 years ago, relies on Make A Track, and this Gigginstown Stud-owned novice has lots of appeal.
A dual bumper winner, the Hernando six-year-old is unbeaten at this trip, his only two defeats coming over further.
Having finished a respectable third to Mount Benbulben at Navan in November, he then denied Ceol Rua at Gowran Park before Christmas, with the Irish Grand National hero Organisedconfusion eight lengths back in third.
That line of form was franked by Ceol Rua landing a decent mares' race last week, and is also significant given that Make A Track conceded 10lbs to the 126-rated Organisedconfusion. Today, Davy Russell's steed, which beat Reizovic on its hurdling debut at Punchestown, could prove a bit of a snip off a mark of just 127.
Russell, still 16 clear of Ruby Walsh in the jockeys' championship, is also fancied to take the Ryan's Event Cleaners Beginners' Chase on Far Away So Close for Paul Nolan.
The Youghal native will likewise have a big say on Sir Des Champs in what should be an informative novice chase, but Hidden Cyclone is just preferred in that.
John 'Shark' Hanlon's seven-year-old ran out a convincing winner of a classy beginners' event here at Christmas, form that has been thoroughly franked by the recent triumph of the fourth home Shot From The Hip.
Beaten just once in eight career starts, Hidden Cyclone is a horse of immense potential, so it will be disappointing if he doesn't continue his progress on his return to graded company.
Earlier, Hisaabaat can take the opening maiden hurdle for Dermot Weld, whose Silver Concorde might bookend his day in style in the bumper.
Having finished clear of Burrenbridge Lodge and One Cool Shabra -- first and second at Gowran on Thursday -- when second to Ut De Sivola at Punchestown, Hisaabaat boasts Rolls Royce form.