New Dawn set to shine bright
BRIGHT NEW DAWN can do its bit to promote the form of the leading Irish novice hurdlers ahead of the Cheltenham Festival in this afternoon's Boylesports.com Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle at Thurles.
A field of nine goes to post for what is an excellent edition of the €40,000 Grade Two, with Willie Mullins relying on the deeply impressive November course winner Touch The Eden.
Gordon Elliott's Leopardstown scorer Mala Beach is the only other horse that comes into the race with winning form but Rory O'Moore, Venture Capital, Seefood, Shrapnel, Jennies Jewel and Reine Angevine are all solid sorts that have done plenty to create the impression that our novices are a collective of real worth.
When Bright New Dawn beat Ned Buntline at Fairyhouse in early December, he looked a cracking long-term chasing prospect and two Grade One placed efforts at Leopardstown, first behind Jezki and Waaheb and then when second to Champagne Fever, did little to dispel that notion.
A handsome son of Presenting, the Gigginstown Stud-owned six-year-old still holds entries for Cheltenham.
Unless he does something sensational today under Davy Russell, the suspicion is that the frenetic demands of the showpiece Grade Ones there might prompt his trainer Dessie Hughes to postpone a visit until next year. Still, it would be reassuring to see him substantiate the Cheltenham claims of those that finished in front of him lately.
The reigning champion jockey might also take the Killinan Maiden Hurdle on Mullins' Raise Hell, which finished second to Touch The Eden here before also making the frame on its next two starts at Fairyhouse.
Another son of the brilliant Rathbarry Stud sire, Raise Hell couldn't cope with Defy Logic when last seen three weeks ago but he may not encounter such a precocious prospect this time.
Mr Cosmopolitan, second to Blissful Moment on its Navan debut for Jim Dreaper, is a rival of some potential, though Raise Hell appeals as being a more hardened campaigner at this stage.
The day's nap selection is Lambro in the conditions chase. While the classy novice Mount Benbulben is an intriguing contender in this two-and-a-quarter-mile affair, his fencing is suspect. In contrast, there was a lot to like about Lambro's reappearance fourth behind Lastoftheleaders at Punchestown recently.
Mullins' charge enjoys a 7lb swing at the weights with his Arthur Moore-trained conqueror here, so that could swing it his way under Ruby Walsh.