Thursday 5 December 2019

'Honey' can secure sweet success for De Bromhead

Gordon Elliott. Photo: Sportsfile
Gordon Elliott. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Jumps fans had their appetite whetted last weekend with the battle of Cyrname and Altior and things get even better tomorrow with a vintage renewal of the Grade One Hatton's Grace Hurdle (2.40).

Apple's Jade bids to go where no horse has gone before and land the Fairyhouse feature for a fourth time but Gordon Elliott's mare faces the stiffest competition yet with five classy challengers in her way.

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The seven-year-old was well below par when swatted aside by Willie Mullins' Bacardys in Navan's Lismullen Hurdle on her reappearance and it's hard to make a case for her to turn around the form this time around.

Mullins makes a three-pronged attack but last year's Stayers' Hurdle winner Penhill is unlikely to at his best over a shorter trip than ideal following a 584-day lay-off while Killultagh Vic is looks below the top level.

Bacardys is the most likely winner of the race on paper but it may be wisest to side with an improving type in Honeysuckle, which has done nothing wrong in her six career starts and can continue to progress under Rachael Blackmore.

Henry de Bromhead's charge bids to follow in the footsteps of Apple's Jade and prevail as a five-year-old and the 7lbs mares' allowance is another plus for a horse destined for stardom.

Always a highlight of the Irish racing calendar, the Meath track is the only place to be tomorrow with three Grade One contests as Samcro takes the next step on his exciting chasing journey in the Drinmore Novice Chase (1.30) against a top-class field.

After a disastrous Champion Hurdle campaign last season, Elliott's seven-year-old showed what he can do over fences with a facile success at Down Royal on his chasing debut but this is a different type of challenge.

Elliott has mopped up this prize in recent years with Delta Work (2018), Death Duty ('17), No More Heroes ('15) and Don Cossack ('13) prevailing but Jack Kennedy's mount is worth taking on at prohibitive odds.

Stablemate Tintangle and Mullins' Irish National winner Burrows Saint are of interest but Joseph O'Brien's Fakir D'oudairies could put a dent in the Samcro hype. The four-year-old made the frame in Grade Ones over hurdles at the Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown Festivals this year and looked a natural when beating former Champion Hurdle runner-up Melon on his chasing debut.

With the four-year-old allowances in his favour, Mark Walsh's mount may spring a surprise while Elliott holds the aces in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (1.0) with Cheltenham Champion Bumper winner Envoi Allen and stablemate Abacadabras colliding.

It's great to see two classy operators duking it out this early in the season but Envoi Allen looks something particularly special and can maintain his unbeaten record under Davy Russell.

The other major prize on the star-studded card is the €100,000 handicap hurdle (3.10) where Mullins' Buildmeupbuttercup looks poised to score off a decent handicap mark.

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