Canyon can prove another supersub for Mullins team
Any plans to go staying hurdling with Nichols Canyon have been parked by Willie Mullins and the son of Authorized is set to go off odds-on favourite in the feature of the final day of a memorable Leopardstown festival.
Faugheen would have been a much shorter price had he been given his Foxrock ticket, but the 2015 Champion Hurdle winner stays at home and in Nichols Canyon, Mullins can rely on last year's winner of today's event.
This was a race that went to Hurricane Fly in three successive years and there is a touch of that horse about Nichols Canyon, which has an unusual leg action, but one that does not stop him possessing a nice fusion of stamina and pace.
The Grade One novice chase is also a race to savour. Coney Island was much too quick for Alpha Des Obeaux in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse, but it could be a different story now over three miles.
The selection bids to provide the legendary Mouse Morris with his first win at Leopardstown this Christmas, as an incredible year for the stable comes to its conclusion.
12.20 Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Steeplechase 2m5f
It may pay to chance Katnap here, after his trainer Joseph O'Brien already struck at Leopardstown this week with bumper winner Aeglos. This horse switches from Sue Bramall, for whom he ran many laudable races, and he jumps as a pro does.
It could be tight at the head of the betting between Katnap and I Knew Well, which got up close home to score at Fairyhouse. Courtncatcher, which has the assistance of Conor Brassil, is quite a solid each-way prospect.
Verdict: Perhaps Katnap can show the benefit of switching to Joseph O'Brien.
12.50 Guinness Maiden Hurdle 2m4f
Willie Mullins can record another winner here as Battleford, which ran a somewhat curious race at Navan, should have no excuses now.
Nothing is especially appealing among the remainder, though New To This Town showed plenty of ability last season.
Verdict: Battleford should take all the beating here under Ruby Walsh.
1.20 Grade Three Willis Towers Watson European Breeders Fund Mares Hurdle 2m4f
Presumably Billy's Hope, which ran a nice race here yesterday, will be a doubtful runner. Let's Dance is no star, but reliability is a strong point and she should be able to take advantage of a little weight concession.
She was quite weak in the market on her seasonal return and looked in difficulty at various stages, but she was strong at the wire. As such, the distance should suit, which is not the case for Slowmotion.
Verdict: This can go to Let's Dance, with stablemate Daisy's Gift perhaps the one for the forecast.
1.55 Grade One Neville Hotels Novice Steeplechase 3m
Some of the main fancies for the RSA Chase go to post here and the key form looks to be that of the Drinmore, when Coney Island won, with Alpha Des Obeaux run out of it after making the ground.
However, the Mouse Morris-trained gelding, which was miles clear of the third when runner-up to the brilliant Thistlecrack in the World Hurdle last season, is taken to exact revenge over this distance. His jumping is without any apparent fault and a big run is on the cards.
At a longer price, Prince Of Scars is no hopeless case. He was available at 20/1 last night and will surely not be ridden as positively as he was at Navan.
Verdict: A contest to savour and with stamina assured, Alpha Des Obeaux may be the one to follow, though Prince Of Scars represents good each-way value.
2.30 Grade One Ryanair Hurdle 2m
Nichols Canyon, which ran in a poor Grade One Morgiana on his seasonal return, will probably prove too difficult to pass here.
A relentless galloper, his slick jumping at speed is one of his main assets and he can prove too much for Petit Mouchoir, which rates the main threat. This one fell in the Fighting Fifth, when seemingly travelling nicely, and he remains open to improvement.
Gavin Cromwell, who trained Raz De Maree to finish an excellent second in the Welsh National, will be hoping for more from Jer's Girl now.
Verdict: A few star names missing here, but Nichols Canyon can beat Petit Mouchoir and provide Willie Mullins with a fifth successive win in this event.
3.05 Top Oil European Breeders Fund Novice Handicap Hurdle 2m4f
An intriguing handicap can go to the JP McManus-owned Stretchingthetruth, which is much better than his display at Navan last time would suggest. Considering all that went wrong previously at Punchestown, he produced a smart performance to win, and he has a bit in hand now.
First To Boogie would be a hugely popular victor, just like he was at Punchestown, providing trainer Madeleine Tylicki - sister of former rider Freddy - with her first winner.
Verdict: There is a touch of class about Stretchingthetruth, which can collect.
3.35 Donohue Marquees Flat Race 2m
Quick Grabim would be a popular winner here for Robbie McNamara. He showed plenty at Cork when second to Monbeg Worldwide and is preferred to Line Out and likely favourite Burren Life.
Verdict: Finny Maguire can land the last race of the festival aboard Quick Grabim.