The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners' Chase at Fairyhouse tomorrow looks set to throw up an intriguing clash between Arabella Boy and Sam Adams.
How the useful Solstice Knight fares on his return from more than a year on the sidelines will also be interesting, but Edward O'Grady's charge has plenty on his plate here after such a lay-off. While neither Arabella Boy nor Sam Adams have won as much as they promised to at times, they are race-fit and running well.
Both are also dropping back in trip to two miles and a furlong, which recent performances suggest will be in their favour. Sam Adams, in the prolific Gigginstown colours, may well start favourite on the back of a reasonable effort in third behind Bob Lingo on New Year's Day.
However, Arabella Boy's recent form is very solid, and he is forgiven his latest defeat when odds-on at Thurles on the basis that he appeared simply not to stay three miles. On that occasion, the Beneficial gelding travelled and jumped well for Nina Carberry, but emptied when asked to pick up from the last fence.
Arabella Boy's previous two runs also recommend him. At Punchestown prior to Thurles, he was only two lengths behind Magnanimity, which subsequently beat the Drinmore winner Jessies Dream at Leopardstown. When Arabella Boy was third to Thegreatjohnbrowne before that, Magnanimity was back in fifth and the subsequent Grade One winner Bostons Angel just a head in front in second.
On both occasions, Arabella Boy ran as though even the two-and-a-half-mile trip stretched him. The return to two miles should do the trick now, then.
In the Tote Pick Six Mares' Hurdle, Our Girl Salley ought to confirm the supremacy she displayed at Leopardstown recently. On that occasion, the three-time bumper winner had Araucaria, which re-opposes tomorrow, and For Bill behind her. That was a quality event, as advertised by For Bill's effortless win on Thursday, and this doesn't look any more challenging. It will be a surprise if Prunella Dobbs's charge doesn't collect.