Katie T can land the knockout blow for rookie Burke
Jonathan Burke has endured a frustrating couple of weeks since enjoying his latest big-race triumph on Shanahan's Turn, but he is trusted to deliver the day's nap aboard Katie T at Fairyhouse this afternoon.
Marquee weekends such as this provide rising stars like Burke and Adrian Heskin with a chance to prove why they have been hand-picked for high-profile jobs, and both continue to impress when opportunities arise.
Over the course of the two days, Heskin might have the stronger book this time, with The Tullow Tank his standout mount in tomorrow's Drinmore, in which Burke will partner Henry de Bromhead's Sadler's Risk. Today, though, there are few more intriguing runners on what is another cracking spread than Kevin Prendergast's Katie T in the €50,000 handicap hurdle.
This is a brilliantly competitive 16-runner affair, but Katie T appeals as being favourably treated by the handicapper off a first-time mark of 126.
In her last four hurdle starts over the past 12 months, she won twice, having previously finished second to the smart Urticaire before latterly chasing home Annie Power and the recent Grade Three chase winner Jennies Jewel at the Punchestown Festival.
In the context of today's race, those are blue-chip recommendations, with the added bonus of Burke claiming three pounds off the allotted 10st 11lb. Moreover, Katie T should turn up here in prime condition, after edging home in front in a decent Flat race at Leopardstown a month ago.
Heskin was the selection's jockey last term, but he is retained for Barry Connell's Elishpour now. The Tony Martin-trained four-year-old split Harvey Logan and Pencilhimin at Naas last time; those two have won an aggregate three times since, so Elishpour is an obvious threat to Katie T.
Heskin and Martin could plunder the first division of the maiden hurdle with No Dice. Owned by Malcolm Denmark of Monsignor fame, this Presenting five-year-old looked a nice prospect when third on its Ascot bumper debut for David Pipe in February.
The likes of Owen Mc and Sub Lieutenant will provide stern opposition, but No Dice might have the quality to prevail. Martin also unleashes a really exciting JP McManus-owned prospect in the beginners' chase in the shape of Noble Emperor.
Adriana Des Mottes, Rule The World, The Job Is Right and Thunder And Roses are all pretty serious animals in their own right, but they are also all opposable for various reasons.
We know far less about Noble Emperor, but he is unbeaten in a bumper and maiden hurdle, having destroyed a quality rival in Drumacoo on his hurdle bow at Limerick in April.
He really could be anything, so he is fancied to defy more practised rivals under Mark Walsh, who is also expected to take the valuable handicap chase on McManus' Byerley Babe, should Robert Tyner's mare line out today rather than tomorrow.
Round Tower, Royal Caviar and Tycoon Prince set a tall standard in the bumper. Gordon Elliott's four-year-old Tycoon Prince really impressed in the manner that he quickened past the subsequent runaway winner Rio Treasure at Galway, and he is weighted to take a bit of stopping again here.
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