Sunday service: Richard Forristal
Outsider to note: Henro Boy
Industry prices forecast that Henro Boy will trade as big as 14/1 for tomorrow's Paddypower.com iPhone App Handicap Hurdle, but Michael O'Hare's representative is no forlorn hope.
A bumper winner on good ground at Downpatrick last year, Henro Boy has run respectably on all bar one of his six hurdling starts. While his overall profile suggests that he may be best on drier ground, he has also run well in slower conditions.
At Punchestown last week, on soft going, he was a very respectable fourth to Raptor in a decent maiden hurdle, and he may not be particularly harshly treated off 118 on his handicap debut. With just 10st 6lbs to carry, Henro Boy has a chance of a place.
Leopardstown 2.40 -- Mikael D'Haguenet
Leopardstown 3.10 -- Henro Boy
Leopardstown 3.45 -- Joncol
Leopardstown 4.50 -- Caolaneoin
953 What Willie Mullins' Punchestown five-timer last Sunday paid to a €1 level stake.
34The number of Irish-trained entries for the Aintree Grand National on April 9.
1 Patrick Mullins' tally over fences after the reigning champion amateur got off the mark on Dooneys Gate at Clonmel on Thursday.
Three things we
learned this week
1 There's life after death for Dom Alco, the French-based sire that died in December aged 23. Having produced nothing of note during his early years at stud, the quality of mare to visit Dom Alco clearly improved over time. Neptune Collonges, now aged 10, was his maiden Grade One winner when landing the 2007 Guinness Gold Cup, and formed the first leg of a fine Cheltenham double that Grands Crus, which is six, completed last Saturday. Silviniaco Conti, Paul Nicholls' prodigious five-year-old, is another of Dom Alco's offspring, possibly even his best yet.
2 Willie Mullins is turning the screw. A month ago, Noel Meade was within €100k of Mullins in the race for the trainers' title, while, numerically, Gordon Elliott trailed him by just one. Now, after a January haul of 23 -- Mullins' second-best monthly total ever -- which included a near-€100,000 yield at Punchestown last Sunday, the prize-money gap has more than quadrupled, and Elliott is 17 in arrears. Game over.
3 Ruby Walsh will be back for Cheltenham. The champion jockey's recovery from a broken leg has been slower than expected, but he revealed this week that he is confident he will be back within the next few weeks. Prestbury Park in March wouldn't be the same without him.
Quote of the week
"Doing the same thing every day on the same gallop, then this happening is a pity, but every day when I open the paper I see good horses meeting with setbacks. It's all part of the game, unfortunately." -- A philosophical Dessie Hughes on revealing that last year's Aintree Grand National runner-up Black Apalachi is out for the season.
Monday: Ayr, Lingfield, Wolverhampton (AW).
Tuesday: Market Rasen, Sedgefield, Southwell (AW).
Wednesday: Punchestown, Carlisle, Kempton* (AW), Lingfield (AW), Ludlow.
Thursday: Thurles, Huntingdon, Kempton* (AW), Southwell (AW), Taunton.
Friday: Bangor, Kempton, Musselburgh, Southwell (AW), Wolverhampton* (AW).
Saturday: Gowran Park, Ayr, Lingfield (AW), Newbury, Warwick, Wolverhampton* (AW).
Sunday: Navan, Exeter, Hereford.