Sunsetstorise has what it takes to foil Curtis raider Imagine The Chat
Published 12/03/2016 | 02:30
Rebecca Curtis is partaking in a spot of role reversal ahead of next week's Cotswolds bonanza by sending two JP McManus-owned runners to compete at Navan tomorrow.
The Festival-winning Welsh handler, who is enduring her most trying season since bursting onto the scene at the end of the last decade, will saddle Mystical Knight in the €17,000 novices' hurdle and Imagine The Chat in the €50,000 novices' handicap chase final.
Barry Geraghty has opted to eschew the ride on Imagine The Chat, so the extremely capable claimer Jonathan Moore takes a valuable five pounds off his back.
A ready winner off 115 at Newbury in December, Moore's mount has twice disappointed badly off marks of 127 since then. However, he has been given a chance here off 122, with Moore's claim further easing his burden.
Imagine The Chat clearly hasn't been sent over just to make up the numbers in such a valuable contest, but he is passed over in favour of Sunsetstorise. While Francis Flood's eight-year-old is no star, he is generally consistent.
Twice a winner at Fairyhouse in a 10-day period in January, he wasn't his usual self when held at Naas three weeks ago. He sometimes has an off day like that and then tends to bounce back, so he is fancied to plunder this under Mark Enright.
Mystical Knight is expected to ensure that Curtis doesn't depart empty handed. Just three take him on, and Oscar Lantern and General Principle will be no pushovers.
Gordon Elliott's General Principle, in particular, looks a lovely individual. A point-to-point, bumper and maiden hurdle winner, the Gigginstown Stud-owned gelding has been beaten just once, when a respectable 11th in last year's Champion Bumper.
He made short work of Tayto Park on his hurdling bow at Navan last month, and he could progress to be a pretty serious animal in time.
Still, Mystical Knight is also a fine prospect. A dual point-to-point winner, he hosed up in a Warwick bumper on New Year's Eve. He then switched to hurdles at the same venue last month, when emerging with credit to be a fine second to Open Eagle.
As of now, that looks a smarter piece of form, so Mystical Knight is trusted to confirm as much for Geraghty.
The Tony Martin-trained Tayto Park is also on duty in the opening maiden hurdle.
This looks like a considerable drop in class, so he warrants the nap vote to oblige for Philip Enright. Second to Stoneford in a Fairyhouse bumper on New Year's Day, Tayto Park doesn't always show his true colours.
Clearly, though, he has plenty ability, so it will be disappointing if he doesn't lose his maiden tag here.
Elliott and Bryan Cooper get the nod to take the longer maiden with Kashmiri Sunset, while at Limerick today the same firm should collect with Double Scores, the trio's only partnership on what is a poor enough spread.
Second to Alto Esqua at Clonmel last time, Double Scores should be more than capable in the two-mile maiden hurdle.
In the bumper, Elliott's Polymath has a life, while Willie Mullins' Thurles winner Augustin is sure to be a leading player.
Of the seven runners, Terence O'Brien's Articulum might be the most exciting. Placed behind Champers On Ice and New To This Town on his first two outings, the six-year-old duly built on those outings by winning nicely at Naas in January. Also a point-to-point winner, he looks a nice type, so he can double his track tally now.
Today's nap vote falls to Tongie. Pat Fahy's six-year-old is on duty in a near two-and-a-half-mile novices' hurdle, with course stalwart Jonjo Walsh responsible for the top-rated The Mulcare Rover.
Tongie is rated three pounds inferior but also receives the same amount here. A consistent sort that won over course and distance in November, David Mullins's mount should be able to make that concession pay.
A Cheltenham Festival preview will be screed on TG4 at 7.45 tonight. The magazine-style programme features pieces with Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott and Joseph O'Brien and will be repeated at 11.55am tomorrow.