Rigour Back Bob can edge out classy rivals
Prayers for a definite break in the dry spell offered by many of the leading jumps trainers have been answered in good time for a posse of the code's better performers to meet their planned engagements both at Naas this afternoon and at Cork tomorrow.
While the sponsorship of Paddy Power considerably boosts the prize fund on offer at the Mallow course, more of the public interest will be centred on today's Naas National Hunt card.
The class of runners in the Tipper Road Hurdle and the Poplar Square Chase deserve to compete on the best of the ground, after manager Tom Ryan reported 15mm of rainfall yesterday in the space of five hours.
But an extensive and expensive drainage scheme completed over the summer should begin to pay off now and hopefully the going won't be overly testing as Graded horses Shinrock Paddy, Rigour Back Bob and Carlito Brigante return to action over timber.
Tom Cooper's lightly burdened French import Son Amix should not be underestimated, but this penalised trio can be expected to dominate at the finish and last season's multiple victor Rigour Back Bob may be best equipped for this particular mission.
Stable companion Catch Me gets all the allowances in the Poplar Square Chase as Eddie Harty's Captain Cee Bee bids to resume where he left off at the Punchestown Festival last April.
Mark Walsh's mount had his task eased in the Ryanair Chase by Psycho's exit six out from that Grade One race and, barring a repeat mishap on the part of Tony Martin's charge, there might not be much between them with the minimum trip favouring them over Catch Me.
Captain Cee Bee was successful twice last winter over today's route and is nominated to initiate a double for owner JP McManus, whose New Zealand-bred Sweeps Hill likewise looks the horse to beat an hour later in the Weatherbys Ireland Beginners' Chase.
The losses incurred at Navan five weeks ago when the John Kiely-trained six-year-old was outpaced by Realt Dubh can be recouped here as Tipperary faller Lucky William seeks to emulate stablemate River Liane's success as favourite in last year's renewal.
Adrian Murray's impressive Clonmel winner Cass Bligh might follow up in the Brown Lad Handicap Hurdle, marking the comeback of Irish Grand National heroine Bluesea Cracker off what could turn out to be an appealing mark over hurdles.
Tomorrow's featured Paddy Power Cork Grand National will put the emphasis firmly on stamina following heavy showers that have turned the going soft.
The €35,750 main prize can be scooped by one of the lighter weights and a chance is taken that Peter Casey's Jack The Bus is cherry-ripe to improve Andrew Lynch's current strike rate.