Medical Card just what doctor ordered
DESPITE Willie Mullins having hit an irresistible run of form over the past week, one of his main rivals could be the man to follow at Punchestown today.
Noel Meade saddles just three horses on the first part of the two-day fixture at the Kildare venue, and all three are fancied to collect.
Medical Card, in particular, appeals as a likely winner under Paul Carberry in the beginners' chase.
Successful in just a maiden over hurdles, the Flemensfirth seven-year-old caught the eye with an improved effort when second to the smart Four Commanders on its chasing debut at Down Royal recently.
Having raced handily under Carberry that day, he was the only one to lay it down to Kicking King's full-brother in the latter stages of the race, eventually beaten just three lengths.
If Medical Card can build on that now, he should take plenty stopping.
The one that is likely to pose the most serious threat to the nap selection is Byerley Bear.
Henry de Bromhead's useful sort was second to Westmeath first time up, before falling at the last when upsides Medical Card's stablemate Donnas Palm at Wexford. But for the spill, that was a decent performance, so Byerley Bear is respected here.
Down Royal scorer Blue Cannon gets the nod for Meade and Carberry in the opening three-year-old contest, while Corbally Ghost is their fancied representative in the maiden hurdle for four-year-olds.
Mullins introduces a French import off the Flat here in Midnight Game, but Davy Russell's mount hasn't run since September 2010.
Corbally Ghost has the benefit of a recent run after obliging with some ease in a decent bumper at Thurles last month, so that might give him an edge over his main rival.
The card's feature is the €10,350 Ladbrokes Hurdle, a two-and-a-half-mile, seven-runner heat that numbers little in the way of in-form contenders.
On his return to hurdling after pulling up in the Irish Grand National last time, Paul Nolan's See U Bob is a tentative selection.
Prior to that disappointment, the JP McManus-owned gelding had been progressing well, and this ordinary affair may not be hard won.