Shuil Aris to finally deliver
The forecast for a return to frosty conditions overnight has prompted a precautionary inspection this morning (7.30) at Fairyhouse, where today's fixture should survive, but with the going quite testing.
The in-form stables of Dermot Weld, Willie Mullins and Paul Nolan provide ready-made favourites for the more interesting events on a card whose rewards reflect the continuing drop in the overall prize-fund.
The Irish Stallion Farms Beginners Chase confined to mares is the most lucrative race of the afternoon and the Nolan-trained Shuil Aris appears the most likely recipient of the E8,637.50 winner's cheque.
Quite an expensive acquisition on behalf of Toshiba Champion Hurdle sponsor Martin O'Sullivan, Alain Cawley's mount went close to overhauling surprise scorer Cara Mara over this course last time out.
The extra furlong-and-a-half to be negotiated now in similarly demanding conditions could work in favour of this likely favourite, which has endured her share of setbacks, but can belatedly hit the target now.
The Nolan yard might, indeed, manage a follow-up with the similarly well-bred debutant Escudero in the Ladbrokes bumper in the absence of any runner for Mullins, whose Alexander Seaview was an odds-on scorer a year ago.
Nolan's booking of Robbie McNamara for the son of Snurge is interesting in light of the tall Limerick rider's current purple patch on behalf of his boss Dermot Weld -- something that New Phase can sustain earlier in the session.
This six-year-old opened his jumping account for Dermot's son Kris here last April and the gelding is bound to have come on for his useful effort last month at Leopardstown when fourth to the battle-hardened Fen Game.
Even allowing for Tim Carroll's useful claim, King's Bastion -- which rallied well after a final-flight mistake to spring a surprise at the Dublin track for owner-trainer Luke Comer -- might not cope with New Phase.
Leopardstown form also points strongly to Mullins' Don't Turn Bach completing a hat-trick, with Paul Townend doing the steering as the resolute galloper makes his debut over timber in the opener.