De Bromhead's Army can make it seventh time lucky
After a couple of near-misses on both sides of the Irish Sea, Seven Nation Army is taken to make it seventh time lucky in this afternoon's opening maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse.
The seven-year-old showed a high level of ability in his bumper days for David Pipe - winning twice, including a decent contest at Ascot. However, in six outings over timber, he has failed to break his duck and frustratingly he has finished runner-up on four occasions.
His run today will be his second start for Henry de Bromhead and his first since December when a respectable eighth of 28 runners behind Anibale Fly at Navan. It's hard to know why he hasn't been seen on a racecourse since then but provided he is close to full fitness, Andrew Lynch's mount should have enough to cope with Gordon Elliott's Be The Hero.
Elliott will have high expectations of landing the beginners' chase with Dallas Cowboy, but this Wexford maiden hurdle winner has been disappointing in his most recent outings - most notably when pulled up at this venue last week - and lacks experience over the larger obstacles.
In contrast, Paul Nolan's Fine Article is having his fifth run over fences and possesses some decent form to boot. Third to Elliott's ill-fated No More Heroes on his seasonal debut at Punchestown, the seven-year-old hasn't been able to build on that since and failed to justify favouritism when third to Kansas City Chief at Thurles 12 days ago. But this galloping track should play to his strengths and he gets a confident vote.
On a relatively mundane card, this contest is the most valuable prize up for grabs along with the closing mares beginners' chase, in which Elliott might also have to settle for the runner-up berth with Dancing Meadows.
Jack Kennedy's mount was a respectable fourth in a competitive handicap hurdle at Cheltenham in October but the six-year-old hasn't run for five months and is also making her chasing bow.
Likely favourite Missyspet bids to make amends for falling when market leader at Gowran at the beginning of last month. The eight-year-old was previously runner-up to the Willie Mullins pair of Uranna and Mckinley, at Thurles and this course, and a repeat of either of those runs should be good enough here.