Weld hoping Deloitte run will reveal Hidden's potential
Dermot Weld hopes to learn more about about Hidden Universe's Festival credentials tomorrow when he lines up in the Grade One Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.
The five-year-old won the Grade One bumper at last season's Punchestown Festival and did not come off the bridle when making a winning debut over timber at Leopardstown in December.
Weld admits he has much more on his plate as he steps up to Grade One company, but the master of Rosewell House is keen to see where he is in the pecking order of Irish novice hurdlers.
"He's a good-ground horse and won on good ground in the championship bumper at Punchestown last April, so very soft ground would not be in his favour," said Weld. "Hopefully they don't get too much rain and hopefully he'll run a good race. He should learn a lot from the race by competing against the best novices in Ireland.
"He's going an extra couple of furlongs and we'll just have to see how he handles it. This race will tell us a lot and tell us if he's good enough (for Cheltenham)."
Weld is set to be double-handed in the race with Endless Intrigue, second at Leopardstown over Christmas, also facing the starter.
Champion trainer Willie Mullins saddles hot favourite Zaidpour as well as course winner Cottrelsbooley.
The former was an emphatic winner on his penultimate start at Fairyhouse but was then narrowly beaten at long odds-on at this track over Christmas.
Mullins feels the two runs may have been too close together and hopes he will put up an improved performance this weekend.
"He seems well and we're hoping he'll be back on form on Sunday," said Mullins. "I think a couple of quick runs there around Christmas time knocked a few of them a little bit and Zaidpour is probably one who needs more time between his races.
"It's a very hot race but any race for that sort of money is going to be hot. I suppose Hidden Universe would be the one to beat. He's going back up in trip but he's won over two and a half miles, so two and a quarter is fine for him.
"Cottrelsbooley seems to prefer going left-handed as he only has one eye and other options for him seem to be very light."