Peter Casey's hugely exciting novice chaser Flemenstar will face a thorough examination of his abilities when he meets Willie Mullins' Lambro at Naas tomorrow.
The champion trainer's seven-year-old, successful over two miles and three furlongs at the Kildare track in November, had Flemenstar back in fourth when landing a Grade Two at Fairyhouse last Easter.
Lambro's triumph over Shinrock Paddy in November undoubtedly confirmed him as a force to be reckoned with, but Flemenstar might be worth keeping on side in this Irish Stallion Farms EBF-sponsored two-miler.
Crucially, Casey's Flemensfirth gelding looked made for this trip when burning his rivals at Navan in November, whereas Lambro is already established over up to three miles. In recording that 19-length verdict under Andrew Lynch, Flemenstar ran and jumped with great efficiency, and there was no mistaking his immense prowess.
Second only to Tony Martin's subsequent Grade One winner Bog Warrior first time up, he is clearly a horse of genuine potential, so it would be no surprise if Paddy Power are compelled to slash the 33/1 that they currently offer about him for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham by the time the dust settles tomorrow.
In the following Slaney Novice Hurdle, Martin's Dedigout is taken to confirm the promise that he has shown in landing both of his hurdling starts to date. Noel Meade's Monksland, unbeaten in a bumper and maiden hurdle, is a worthy opponent in this €24,375 Grade Two, with Lyreen Legend another that should show up well.
Third behind the high-class Unaccompanied at Naas, the Dessie Hughes-trained five-year-old ran out a four-and-a-half-length winner of a decent novice at Navan last month.
However, there was a lot to like about Dedigout's success at the Co Meath venue a week earlier. On that occasion, he made much of the running under Davy Russell and was there to be shot at as he entered the punishing straight in heavy ground. However, he kept finding resolutely to deny Mart Line -- which re-opposes here -- and that form has since been franked by the third home, My Murphy, taking a Grade Three at Limerick.
Uncle Tom Cobley, like Dedigout a Gigginstown Stud-owned runner, is fancied to defy its big burden in the two-mile handicap chase. Conor O'Dwyer's charge has been disappointing in better company lately, but has fallen 4lb to 125 as a result.
That is the mark that he was a good second off at Fairyhouse in April, while the in-form Ben Dalton takes a further 7lb off the nap selection's back now.
Although last week's Punchestown winner Luke's Benefit is feared, Uncle Tom Cobley can take advantage of the drop in class now that the handicapper has relented.
Apart from Lambro earlier on, Mullins should also have a big say with his two other representatives on the programme. His bumper-winning mare Hats And Heels should take all the beating under Ruby Walsh in the second maiden hurdle, with Un Atout likely to figure prominently for his son Patrick in the bumper.