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Shark's likely Lad


Regardless of your racing preference, be it the jump or Flat code, you can't but be looking forward to the action on offer tomorrow.

Domestically, Tipperary host an intriguing mixed card with a Group Three and number of Graded races, while across in France, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is set to be one of the most wide open in many years.

At Tipperary, Shark Hanlon's good run of form should continue in the Grade Three Friends Of Tipperary Hurdle as his Luska Lad begins what is sure to be a busy campaign over hurdles.

The seven-year-old was second on the Flat at Killarney back in August, but hasn't been seen over hurdles since the Punchestown Festival and you can expect him to be fine-tuned and ready to go for the €52,500 contest.

Former Cheltenham Festival hero Captain Cee Bee, the controversial The Real Article and Noel Meade's Donnas Palm make for an interesting tussle, but there can only be one winner, of course.

The same colours of Barry Connell that will be worn by Andy McNamara aboard Luska Lad are due to be worn by Barry Geraghty half an hour later on Bullock Harbour in the Grade Three Dolores Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle, but the ground looks to have gone against Jessica Harrington's charge now.

In fact, Harrington's other runner is recent Fairyhouse maiden hurdle winner Steps To Freedom, who would be the pick of the octet set to go to post, if allowed take his chance. Ground concerns may prevent this, though.

Another notable absentee from tomorrow's Tipperary card could be Cheltenham Festival winner First Lieutenant, as the horse may also find the underfoot conditions too testing.

Mouse Morris' charge was a dual Grade One-winning novice hurdler last season and appears to have all the hallmarks of a real classy chaser this term, but whether he will be tried on testing ground is another matter. We will have to wait until tomorrow to find out.

Class should prevail if he runs, despite the fact that it would be his chasing debut against more experienced opposition, and if not, Sleveardagh is going to be difficult to oppose.

Tomorrow's bumper has the makings of a real informative contest for the future but, without trying to be repetitive, if Tipperary turns testing, it may throw up an odd result.

There is no doubt that a couple lining up in the race wouldn't look out of place in the Cheltenham Bumper next March and maybe some will end up running over hurdles at that meeting.

The pick of the bunch is John Kiely's Galway and Listowel winner, Saint Gervais, and it is significant that Derek O'Connor is maintaining the partnership, despite his obvious point-to-point commitments.

At Longchamp, there are 10 Irish-trained runners declared, including the Aidan O'Brien trio in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Tomorrow's 1m4f Group One contest is the autumn highlight in European racing, but has only made its way back to Ballydoyle under O'Brien's tenure once -- that with Dylan Thomas in 2007.

He was a four-year-old winner bucking the trend and good record of three-year-old success in the race, and O'Brien's second winner could come tomorrow with another trend breaker in So You Think, who would be an even rarer sight as a five-year-old winner of the race.

Doubts over the ability of the New Zealand-bred, Australian-imported powerhouse will hopefully be unfounded and the best go-to jockey in the business, Seamie Heffernan, can get further due reward and add to what has already been a marvellous season.


Last year's winner, Workforce, will be a threat, as will many others, and of 16 that go to post, real solid cases could be made for nine, 10 or even 11 of them, thus showing the quality and competitiveness of this year's renewal.

Ed Dunlop is not overjoyed with Snow Fairy's draw in stall 11.

However, he believes she has plenty going for her as she seeks to add Europe's most prestigious prize to her two Classics and her victories in major events in Japan and Hong Kong.

"We're not in one to eight, but neither are So You Think or Sarafina, so that's what has happened," said the trainer.

"With her, I don't think it's as essential as a horse who needs to be close to the pace. We've got what we've got, so we'll make the most of it."