Cooper back as Mullins picks up pace
Over five weeks since an injury compelled him to take time out, Bryan Cooper makes his return for what is an interesting Fairyhouse card.
On October 8, the Tralee native sustained a fracture to his right arm at this track. He had not long recovered from suffering a collapsed lung in a bad fall at the Galway festival.
His return may be a winning one. Cooper steers Avenir D'Une Vie, beaten seven lengths in the Champion Bumper last season, which has the class to take the opening maiden hurdle.
This Lavirco-bred makes the switch from Willie Mullins to Henry de Bromhead. The champion trainer supplies the obvious threat to the selection in the shape of Aussie Reigns, a belated recruit to hurdling and smart stayer on the Flat in Britain. He has gone nearly three years without winning a race.
It appears as though Cooper is not rushing things, as he does not take a ride in the chase events. He could have had either Archive or Double Scores to get aboard in the novice chase.
This is a tricky event, with horses rated 123 or less over hurdles eligible to partake. Double Scores might be the answer. He was an easy maiden hurdle winner last season, though Prickly could give him plenty to think about with the ground remaining relatively fast for the time of year.
Willie Mullins is easing back into full swing. He has three runners today, all likely to be well-fancied, and can strike in the mares' maiden hurdle with Asthuria. Running in colours of renown due to Hurricane Fly, this five-year-old ran a lovely race on her only Irish start when third to Jer's Girl last March.
Mullins can also take the bumper with Some Neck, which has been consistent and generally raced in hot contests so far.
The Today FM Ladies Handicap Steeplechase is notable in that none of Nina Carberry, who is expecting her first baby, Katie Walsh, Katie O'Farrell or Jane Mangan has a mount. The Aine O'Connor-ridden Prosperity Square could make all the running.
The two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle is typical 0-95 fare but Neddyvaughan is solid in the first division and the same comment applies to Whitber's Choice in the second for Liz Doyle.