Wary Byrnes issues Sol warning
Charles Byrnes feels Solwhit is not as forward as he was 12 months ago ahead of his bid for a second successive victory in the Dobbins & Madigans at Punchestown Hurdle on Sunday.
The six-year-old's success in last year's renewal kickstarted a campaign that also yielded triumphs in the December Festival Hurdle and the Irish Champion Hurdle.
"He's in good shape, but he wouldn't be quite as straight as he was this time last year," said Byrnes.
"He came in from grass carrying a lot of weight this year and it's taking a lot of work to get it off him.
"He would have a similar amount of work done to what he had done last year, but his work suggests he's just not quite as forward.
"We have targeted this race and he should be fit enough to do himself justice, but he had a particularly good summer this year.
"The ground will suit him, though, and he always runs well in Punchestown."
Noel Meade has in recent seasons trained Harchibald, Iktitaf and Jazz Messenger to win this prize, with this year's representative being Donnas Palm, an impressive winner on the Flat at Galway last month.
"He's in good shape and he's ready to go," said the County Meath handler.
"I don't know what ground he's best on but he seems to handle anything and even though there's only four runners, all four of them have a chance.
"Sublimity would probably like better ground and is getting on a bit, but Solwhit is probably going to be hard to beat and Voler La Vedette is a good mare.
"All going well, he could go for the Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse next at the end of the month."
Voler La Vedette is in receipt of 5lb from her male counterparts and impressed on her seasonal reappearance at the track a month ago.
Her trainer, Colm Murphy, said: "She's in good form and this has been the plan with her.
"She has a run under her belt now, which could be important on this heavy ground, so we're hoping for a good run.
"Hopefully she can improve a bit more and Sunday will tell us a lot more about her."
Robbie Hennessy's 2007 Champion Hurdle winner Sublimity completes the quartet and while the trainer is delighted with his current condition, the testing ground is a concern.
"He worked at the Curragh the other day and I couldn't be happier with the horse," said Hennessy.
"He looks good and is down to his racing weight, so he's spot-on, more or less.
"The better the ground the better for him, but we just have to take each day as it comes with him now following his suspensory injury.
"If he comes out of Sunday OK, he's entered for the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, so we'll have a look at that."