Cooper can dominate on Rule The World for Morris
If Dunguib could emulate the merit of Last Instalment's Thursday comeback at Naas today, Philip Fenton would doubtless be a happy man, but his classy 11-year-old really will have its work cut out to make a winning return.
The Limestone Lad Hurdle is a tightly contested Grade Three comprising six runners in all, and the 2009 Champion Bumper winner's near three-year absence is a major negative in such a competitive affair.
In short, a place finish would surely constitute a cracking return for Dunguib against opposition that are both race-fit and smart.
Willie Mullins' duo Upsie and Mourad are both well up to this standard at their best, likewise Jarlath Fahey's mare Jennies Jewel.
The Mouse Morris-trained Rathlin is arguably the most interesting runner under Davy Russell on his first outing since clocking up a deeply impressive hat-trick over fences in the summer, but the standout option is Morris' other Gigginstown Stud-owned contender Rule The World.
The mount of Bryan Cooper has struggled to quite fulfil the promise that saw him chase The New One home at Cheltenham last March after subsequently fracturing a pelvis at Punchestown. Still, he made it two from two at this Kildare venue on his return in October, before failing to cope with the jump in grade in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle.
In a far less significant three-mile Grade One at Leopardstown over Christmas, he found only Zaidpour too strong, having raced really sweetly on the pace in Russell hands.
In the end, he proved a sitting duck to the eventual winner, though such was the ease with which he travelled before the final bend that you'd imagine he would have won had the race been over this afternoon's two-mile-three-furlong journey.
With that in mind, then, Rule The World is napped to stretch his unbeaten record here to three.
Just five horses have been declared for the Grade Two Woodlands Park 100 Club Novice Chase, but the €40,000 contest should be another informative affair.
Noel Meade's dour stayer Ipsos Du Berlais comes here after two commendable placed efforts in decent handicaps, while fellow Gigginstown runner Rogue Angel is Cooper's choice following his authoritative Punchestown win in first-time blinkers.
Foxrock's third to Carlingford Lough and Morning Assembly at Leopardstown was another fine performance, but Sizing Gold boasts the best credentials at this stage.
Conqueror of Morning Assembly when earning his sole hurdle win at Leopardstown over a year ago, the Flemensfirth seven-year-old always looked an embryonic chaser. He duly began to fulfil that potential when making a smooth transition at Navan in December, readily toppling last week's Punchestown scorer Mullaghanoe River.
Andrew Lynch rode him positively that day, and his faith was entirely justified as his partner made a big impression en route to a straightforward success.
If Sizing Gold comes on for that now, he should take plenty stopping on his first try at three miles.
LYNCH ALSO GETS THE NOD TO TAKE THE MAIDEN HURDLE THAT FOLLOWS ABOARD KICK ON BOSS.
Willie McCreery's eight-year-old tired into fifth behind Sizing Tennessee at Navan, but his form appeals as being by far the most reliable in this more modest heat.
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh look to have a formidable representative in the opening four-year-old hurdle in the shape of narrow Leopardstown loser Ivan Grozny, while Edward O'Grady's Out Now seems nicely treated on his switch back to hurdles in the two-mile handicap.
Runner-up in the 2012 Irish Grand National off 131, Shane Hassett's mount gets in here off 107 when you factor in his useful rider's claim.