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Flat out can announce big-time arrival

The 2011 BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle is the highlight of tomorrow's seven-race card at Leopardstown, but it doesn't hold much appeal as a betting heat given Hurricane Fly's short odds and apparent infallibility.

There is plenty else for punters to get their teeth into, not least the other Grade One, the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase. Won by the ill-fated An Cathaoir Mor 12 months ago, the prestigious two-miler promises to be an informative event, with the three principals from the equivalent race over Christmas all re-opposing.

On that occasion, Saludos was under pressure when falling at the last, leaving Realt Dubh to score comprehensively from Noble Prince. Noel Meade's winner is likeable, but question marks surrounding the overall standard of the form remain and it may be that all three horses could prove vulnerable to something with a touch more class.

While the Michael Hourigan-trained Mr Cracker is an improver, he may come up a fraction short here, and preference is for the unexposed Flat Out. Twice a winner in bumpers and over hurdles, Willie Mullins' French-bred finished fifth behind Menorah, Get Me Out Of Here, Dunguib and Oscar Whisky at Cheltenham in March.

A pacey sort, Flat Out then recorded another high-class performance when second to Blackstairmountain at Punchestown and it's of note that both those runs came on goodish ground. Emmet Mullins' mount is arguably best in testing conditions, as was the case when he sluiced up on his fencing debut at Punchestown last time.

Apart from getting a small fright at the first fence and a big fright at the last, Flat Out fenced superbly that day and he is sure to be better for the experience now. At around 3/1, he is value to announce himself on the big stage under his talented young rider.

Also, Si C'Etait Vrai can make amends for an unfortunate spill last time in the Grade Two novice hurdle.

Travelling sweetly under Paddy Flood, Dessie Hughes' horse fell four-out at Naas three weeks ago in a good novice that was won by Gagewell Flyer.

All six of the runners that day are well regarded, and Bishopsfurze, the disappointing favourite, has since won. Si C'Etait Vrai can further boost the form now.

Irish Independent