Andy Dufresne seeks redemption but Joseph O'Brien pair pose stiff test in Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle
Joseph O'Brien is excited at the prospect of seeing how the beautifully-bred Meticulous will perform over obstacles as he makes his jumping debut in Sunday's Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.
Meticulous, second to the unbeaten Envoi Allen in a Grade Two bumper last season, will be out to become the first horse to win this Grade Two contest as a maiden as he is pitched in against five smart rivals.
The six-year-old son of Fame And Glory – his dam is Grade One winner Refinement – carries the famous colours of powerful flat owner Michael Tabor and will be joined by progressive stablemate Anything Will Do.
Anything Will Do is a course and distance winner at the Kildare track and will bid to make it four consecutive victories as the Kilkenny-based trainer bids to join an illustrious roll of honour for the first time.
"Both are in good shape," O'Brien said this morning. "Anything Will Do is a very consistent horse with solid form and if he runs his race again, hopefully he'll be able to give Andy Dufresne a run for his money."
"It would look a tough ask for Meticulous having his first run over hurdles but it comes to a point in the season when you want to get him out. His bumper form has worked out very well.
"There is no doubt that he is a decent horse so we look forward to seeing what he can do over obstacles. We are looking forward to getting him started."
The likes of Vautour, Douvan and Min have all landed the odds for the all-conquering Willie Mullins in recent years but the champion trainer is not represented this time around with Gordon Elliott's Andy Dufresne sure to be a warm-order favourite.
Andy Dufresne drops back to 2m having finished second to the classy Latest Exhibition at Navan last time out and the Meath trainer is expecting him to excel over this trip.
"Andy Dufresne got beaten by a very good horse of Paul Nolan’s last time and he’s been in good shape since then. The way he jumps and travels, two miles should be no problem for him," Elliott said.
Six will also go to post in the earlier Grade Three Killiney Novice Chase as Cheltenham Festival winner City Island bids to bounce back from a disappointing chasing debut over Christmas.
Martin Brassil's stable star – which landed the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at last year's Cheltenham Festival – faces a tough test though with Mullins likely to saddle the favourite in the shape of Fairyhouse winner Carefully Selected.