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Un De Sceaux and Ruby Walsh on the way to winning at Punchestown Racecourse

Un De Sceaux and Ruby Walsh on the way to winning at Punchestown Racecourse

Un De Sceaux and Ruby Walsh on the way to winning at Punchestown Racecourse

UN DE SCEAUX, Willie Mullins' relentless Stan James Champion Hurdle contender, faces another straightforward task in his final prep race ahead of Cheltenham in today's Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park.

Denied a meaningful test against Melodic Rendezvous when Sandown was rained off a fortnight ago, the classy Edward O'Connell-owned six-year-old has so far failed to encounter a rival capable of putting it up to him in four starts for the champion trainer.

He was similarly dominant in bumpers in France and the way in which he pulverises opposition from the front in deep ground makes him an exhilarating prospect.

Granted, should the card survive an 8.0 inspection, we will glean little new about Un De Sceaux in this €46,000 Grade Two.

His three rivals are collectively rated six stone inferior, so the chances are he will line-up at Prestbury Park without a tangible gauge as to the true extent of his capabilities against blue-chip contenders for the two-mile crown.

That's as it is. Still, if the persistently foul weather means that the revered Cotswolds turf – currently heavy – will ride considerably softer than usual next month, few would relish it quite as much as this massively unexposed individual.

Mullins, O'Connell and Ruby Walsh also have a serious chance of securing the equivalent two-and-a-half-mile chase with Turban, which came of age in the Dan Moore Chase at Fairyhouse.

The Dom Alco gelding isn't easily passed over, but Bog Warrior might just have the quality required to shade this on his first start since fracturing a bone in a leg when fifth in the World Hurdle last year.

While Argocat, Rathlin and Aupcharlie are all players of sorts in this as well, Tony Martin's 10-year-old is worth keeping on side. He has had his problems over fences, but was a revelation back over hurdles last term.

Notwithstanding that he has also been declared for tomorrow's Boyne Hurdle at Navan, Martin's decision to go straight back over fences is surely a vote of confidence in Bog Warrior's technique, so he and Bryan Cooper get the nod to score.

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In the opening beginners' chase, Tom Foley's resurgent stable might plunder another victory with the Roger Loughran-ridden Followmeuptocarlow.

In four starts since joining Foley, this 11-year-old has won a handicap hurdle and been second in his first two chases behind decent sorts My Murphy and Some Tikket, respectively.

Over course and distance last time, Followmeuptocarlow jumped well and kept on honestly in the race that Some Tikket won. In the context of this afternoon's relatively modest competition, a reproduction of that performance ought to be good enough.

Eoin Doyle's Leavethelighton is possibly the pick of his 14 opponents. Runner-up in three successive hurdles, the maiden son of Oscar is certainly on the improve.

In the Holden Plant Rentals Careys Cottage Cup Handicap Chase, Viaduct Joey gets the nod for Terence O'Brien and Paul Townend. Bruff, Unoccupied, Sizing Machine and Solstice Knight are among a bunch of the 11 in this with claims.

However, Viaduct Joey enjoys deep ground and he will strip fitter for this switch back to fences after two outings over flights.

Just 6lb higher than when triumphant off 111 at Clonmel a year ago, he remains on a very competitive mark.


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