Mullins' Wicklow Brave flies the flag for raiders
Willie MULLINS' Wicklow Brave is the only Irish-based runner in tomorrow's Betfair Hurdle, 10 years after Michael O'Brien's Essex landed the latest cross-channel success in the valuable Newbury handicap.
The six-year-old, which will carry 11st 3lb, finished last of eight runners at the track behind the leading Supreme Novices' Hurdle contender L'Ami Serge in November. L'Ami Serge's team of Barry Geraghty and Nicky Henderson have the top-weight Sign Of Victory (11st 12lb) in tomorrow's two-miler, and Henderson will also saddle Vasco Du Ronceray.
Paul Nicholls has the 5/1 favourite Calipto (11st 6lb), while Harry Fry's Noel Fehily-ridden Activial (7/1) carries the same weight and is the only other horse trading at single-figure odds.
Jonjo O'Neill relies on the first-time blinkered Goodwood Mirage under AP McCoy, and he revealed yesterday that Taquin Du Seuil rather than Holywell would tackle the Denman Chase. David Pipe's exciting Kings Palace is also an intended starter in the novices' chase.
The ground will be soft, but officials are confident that the meeting will beat the cold snap, as a forecast overnight low of -1 is set to be alleviated by a six- or seven-degree daytime rise.
Both of yesterday's remaining jumps fixtures survived at Taunton and Huntingdon, with O'Neill bagging a treble and McCoy and Fehily a double apiece at the latter venue.
Bangor, Newcastle and Kempton are scheduled today, with the last-named two venues inspecting this morning. Henderson's Arkle Trophy contender Josses Hill will face three rivals in a graduation chase under Geraghty at Kempton should that fixture go ahead.
There is an interesting hunter chase at Bangor, as Jamie Codd flies in to ride Rebecca Curtis' Teaforthree, with Henrietta Knight, David Loder and Zara Phillips among others represented.
Meanwhile, Cavan handler Shane Donohoe and Shane Gray scored with Etaad (7/2) at Wolverhampton yesterday, while ex-pat Brendan Powell took the opener in Meydan with 7/1 shot Dark Emerald.