McManus strengthens his hand
JP McManus has tightened his grip on the National Hunt scene with the powerful Limerick owner making a trio of significant purchases including leading Supreme Novices' Hurdle fancy Fakir D'Oudairies.
McManus wasted little time in snapping up the Joseph O'Brien-trained Fakir D'Oudairies after his impressive Grade Two Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham last month and it leaves him with a particularly strong hand in the juvenile division.
With McManus already owning Triumph Hurdle favourite Sir Erec (6/4 favourite) - which oozed class when landing the Grade One Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown last weekend for O'Brien - it looks like Fakir D'Oudairies may be aimed at the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, for which he is a 7/1 chance.
Konitho - an eye-catching Naas maiden hurdle winner for O'Brien and a 25/1 chance for the Supreme - and Willie Mullins' Champion Bumper prospect Blue Sari (10/1) are other notable acquisitions for McManus as he bids to add to his record haul of 54 winners at next month's Cheltenham Festival.
Another horse that's likely to be Cheltenham bound is Mullins' Un De Sceaux and the 11-year-old may head straight to the Cotswolds next month for the Ryanair Chase.
Un De Sceaux ran a blinder behind Altior in the Tingle Creek - his only run this season - but was scratched from Saturday's Betfair Exchange Chase at Newbury with the champion trainer admitting that "there isn't a plan for him yet".
Meanwhile, a seven-race jumps card at Thurles is the only action on these shores where O'Brien and JJ Slevin hold leading claims with Petit Tartare in the feature event, the Horse & Jockey Rated Novice Hurdle (2.50).
Elsewhere, Alfredo Arcano bids to plunder a €157,000 handicap (5.25) at Meydan today having been just edged out by Jamie Osborne's Dream Today in a similar event last month. David Marnane will hope Ben Curtis' mount can reverse the form, while Billy Lee rides Marnane's Freescape in the €120,000 handicap (6.0) over 7f.