'Supa' can continue Festival love affair and deny Faugheen fairytale
Many race programmes will be flying in the air at 3.40 today should Faugheen 'The Machine' write his name in the history books as the first to combine Champion Hurdle success with a Stayers' Hurdle victory.
Young pretender Paisley Park is the one to beat on paper after an outstanding season while Supasundae is the fly in the ointment on a quality card where a top-class renewal of the Ryanair Chase shares top billing.
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1.30 GRADE ONE JLT NOVICES' CHASE 2m3f168yds
SEVEN of this race's eight winners have been from the visiting party but the home team hold a strong hand in 2017 Triumph Hurdle winner Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation.
The pair are closely matched based on their two meetings this season but Defi Du Seuil - trained by Philip Hobbs - edged Colin Tizzard's charge at Sandown on their most recent clash and should confirm that form.
Mullins has plundered four of the eight runnings and sends three into battle today with Real Steel (Paul Townend), Voix Du Reve (Ruby Walsh) and Pravalaguna (David Mullins) all holding claims.
The stable's third string, Pravalaguna, is open to any kind of improvement following her two bloodless chase victories this season and her 7lb mares' allowance gives her each-way claims at big odds.
Gordon Elliott's Mengli Khan - third in last year's Supreme - has been hit and miss over fences but a return to the Cotswolds and slower ground may see him challenge.
Verdict: Pravalaguna (e/w) can bely her odds to make the frame.
2.10 GRADE THREE PERTEMPS NETWORK FINAL H'CAP HURDLE 2m7f213yds
THE claims of Elliott's Sire Du Berlais are obvious after an eye-catching performance over Christmas in Leopardstown but there has only been one winning favourite in 10 years.
The last three runnings have gone to Irish improvers and Sire Du Berlais fits the bill, while Jessica Harrington's pair of Walk To Freedom and Not Many Left are also intriguing.
With 24 runners going to post, anything can and will happen but the experience of A Toi Phil may prove vital with Elliott very sweet on the chances of Jack Kennedy's mount.
The softer conditions will play to the nine-year-old's strengths and he has claims if putting his best foot forward.
The English had dominated this contest until recent years and have live chances in Hobbs' Samburu Shujaa but course and distance winner Aaron Lad may prove their best chance for Richard Newland.
Verdict: The experienced A Toi Phil can justify Elliott's confidence.
2.50 GRADE ONE RYANAIR CHASE 2m4f127yds
THIS could well be the hottest edition of the Ryanair since its inception in 2005 with a host of Gold Cup prospects rerouted to the shorter trip.
Top of that list is Noel Meade's Road To Respect - fourth in the blue riband last year and winner of the Brown Plate in 2017 - which will revel in conditions under Sean Flanagan.
Paul Nicholls' Frodon has been outstanding this season with three victories - including two at the Cotswolds - and Bryony Frost seems to get a tune out of the seven-year-old.
He never landed a blow in this last year, however, and others are preferred with Henry de Bromhead's Monalee - second to Presenting Percy in the RSA 12 months ago - another with a leading chance.
Mullins' Footpad was last year's outstanding novice but hasn't been the same horse this season and is worth taking on over an unknown trip after some niggly problems this season.
Stablemate Un De Sceaux - winner of this race two years ago - ran close to a career best when chasing home Altior in the Tingle Creek, his sole run this season, and demands respect despite his increasing years.
Last year's impressive winner Balko Des Flos is another for a large shortlist while Coney Island would be interesting if bouncing back to form, although Road To Respect is selected to continue his fine Festival form.
Verdict: Road To Respect can land a cracking renewal for Meade and Flanagan.
3.30 GRADE ONE SUN RACING STAYERS' HURDLE 2m7f213yds
THERE won't be a dry eye in the house if Faugheen turns back the clock and the evergreen 11-year-old is reported to be sizzling on Mullins' Closutton gallops in recent weeks.
Were the 2015 Champion Hurdle hero to reproduce his breathtaking Punchestown Festival display from last April, there would only be one winner but doubts linger and short odds doesn't resemble value.
The same can be said of Paisley Park. While Emma Lavelle's seven-year-old has been a massive improver this season and won impressively over course and distance in January, skimpy odds are a big deterrent.
Paisley Park ended last season with a heavy defeat in the Albert Bartlett and that's a deal-breaker given all the shocks already this week.
On the other hand, Harrington's Supasundae is a Festival winner and runner-up in this 12 months ago. Remarkably consistent at Grade One level and with form figures of 2-2-2 over this trip, Robbie Power's mount is sure to make the frame and may prove best in a competitive renewal.
Having landed the last two runnings, Mullins sends three into battle alongside Faugheen and the consistent Bapaume may be overpriced.
Verdict: Supasundae can continue his fine Festival form to land the odds.
4.10 GRADE THREE BROWN PLATE HANDICAP CHASE 2m4f127yds
IRISH horses have landed the last three runnings but with just two contenders today - Mullins' Polidam and De Bromhead's Valseur Lido - the home team look primed for victory.
Nicky Henderson's Janika - a promising French recruit - was just touched off by Nick Williams' Siruh Du Lac over course and distance in January and both hold claims.
This contest hasn't been particularly kind to punters in the past 10 years, however, with a 50/1 winner as well as two 33/1 victors and scorers at 25/1, 18/1, 16/1 and 14/1.
David Pipe has an outstanding record with three winners in the last nine runnings - father Martin also had three successes - and outsider Eamon An Cnoic ticks a lot of boxes.
Tom Scudamore's mount travelled sweetly in a quality handicap at this course in November and has since undergone a wind operation while showing his rude health with a hurdles win at Chepstow on his last run.
Verdict: Eamon An Cnoic can continue Pipe's fine record in this race.
4.50 GRADE TWO MARES' NOVICES' HURDLE 2m179yds
MULLINS has landed this race's three runnings with hot favourites but it's Henderson who has the hotpot today in the shape of Epatante.
While she looks a very smart prospect and could prevail, this is her first proper test over hurdles and she faces 21 rivals so it's best to look elsewhere and Sinoria jumps off the page.
De Bromhead's Honeysuckle had been a leading fancy for the same connections before being ruled out but Sinoria is a most capable deputy.
There was a lot to like about how she knuckled down to land a Listed event against the males at Punchestown on her last start with runner-up Chosen Mate subsequently landing a Grade Two and franking the form.
Nicholls' Posh Trish is a danger - as is the well-supported My Sister Sarah for Mullins and Ruby Walsh - but Sinoria can get the job done under the red-hot Rachael Blackmore.
Verdict: Sinoria can show her class to prevail under Blackmore.
5.30 KIM MUIR CHALLENGE CUP AMATEUR RIDERS' HANDICAP CHASE 3m2f
TUESDAY'S National Hunt Cup showed how unpredictable these events can be and a more sedate pace is expected as owner Philip Reynolds hopes to settle Gold Cup nerves.
Tomorrow is a big day for Reynolds with Presenting Percy but he'll be hoping to first land his fourth successive Festival win and Elliott's Its All Guesswork has decent claims.
Ted Walsh's Any Second Now has some good form but without a win from nine starts over fences, he has been frustrating to follow. Elliott also saddles Measureofmydreams but the home team may continue their dominance through Perfect Candidate.
Fergal O'Brien's course and distance winner has fallen down the weights (now rated 140 from a high of 156) and three-time course winner - last seen chasing home Tuesday winner Beware The Bear - can outrun his odds for Brodie Hampson.
Verdict: The 12-year-old Perfect Candidate can live up to his name.