Perrone and Ice could be on the menu for McCoy at Fairyhouse
AP McCoy was inspired in the saddle at Fairyhouse yesterday and the great man could be to the fore again today, regardless of whether he enjoys a fairytale farewell triumph in the feature event.
The Easter Festival was billed somewhat opportunistically as the McCoy show, and few would begrudge such an eventuality.
Given the legacy that the Moneyglass, Co Antrim native will leave behind after 20 years of unending success that has its roots in his unyielding professionalism, he is surely deserving of a sentimental swansong.
Apart from the gambled-on Cantlow in the big race, the sport's hardest man is pencilled in for three more live ones belonging to JP McManus this afternoon.
McCoy has also been snapped up by Tony Martin for Blair Perrone in the €42,500 novices' hurdle.
Martin, with whom he combined for a memorable Galway Hurdle coup last year courtesy of Thomas Edison, is doubtless anxious to make the most of McCoy while he can. The famously shrewd local handler is no different from the rest of us in that regard.
2.45 Grade Three Rea Grimes Property Consultants Hurdle 2m
Dicosimo walked up the hill in the Triumph Hurdle. He is a big chasing type that probably couldn't cope with the pacier sorts when it came down to it, but this test should be more his thing.
Chatham House Rule is another that loves to get his toe in. He hacked up at Limerick last month and he might be hard to beat if he gets into a rhythm, though he and Dicosimo could do without cutting each other's throats.
Prussian Eagle was second to Dicosimo at Gowran Park in January and third to Petit Parisienne in a Leopardstown Grade One, while Sam Red ploughed home in the manner of a fair prospect at Navan in March. The maiden Ring Chief is one to watch with an eye on the future after finishing second here on his debut.
Verdict: If Dicosimo is none the worse for Cheltenham, he should win.
3.20 Grade Two Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle 2m 4f
On form, Dedigout is the one to beat. Tony Martin's charge is an out-and-out mudlark that doesn't lack class and he has a decent record around here.
Last year's winner Thousand Stars returns for a first time since June. He can hardly be written off, but, at 11 years of age, such a gruelling test on his reappearance might not be ideal.
There is much of a muchness about the remainder, with the possible exception of Noble Endeavor. Gordon Elliott's charge has been a little frustrating, most recently getting clung by Killultagh Vic at Cheltenham. However, his overall profile is progressive.
Verdict: On ground he handles, Noble Endeavor is trusted to step up.
3.55 Boomerang Animal Bedding Handicap Hurdle 2m 6f
The mud-loving Mine Now is on a hat-trick after convincing wins at Navan and Gowran Park. A stone higher than for the first of those triumphs, Peter Fahey's charge still gets in off a light weight, with David Mullins' booking a positive once again.
I Shot The Sheriff is the only other last-time-out winner among 21 runners. He trounced Velocity Boy at Wexford, form that was complemented by the runner-up dead-heating at Limerick. While he is 9lb higher than when second to Forever Gold at Navan in February, he is improving.
Forever Gold re-opposes after finishing second to Heathfield over fences at Navan, so he also has live claims.
Flaming Dawn has a poor win record, but he sports first-time blinkers under McCoy after running second here to Rightdownthemiddle. He can do better yet.
Rightdownthemiddle disappointed behind Mine Now next time. He is inconsistent and has something to prove.
Verdict: I Shot The Sheriff is one to keep on side for now.
4.25 Grade Two Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Novices' Hurdle 2m
McCoy takes over from Ruby Walsh on Martin's facile Gowran Park winner Blair Perrone. Having slammed the 2014 Champion bumper winner Silver Concorde at Leopardstown last Christmas, Blair Perrone disappointed twice, but his latest performance is a more accurate gauge of his ability.
Walsh has opted for Sempre Medici of Willie Mullins' two. Another that enjoys plenty cut in the ground, he ran a tidy race to be sixth in the County Hurdle and couldn't be discounted.
Max Dynamite also ran with credit to be fourth in the County, though he is 7lb worse off now for a length-and-a-half, which may have been what swayed Walsh.
Identity Thief looked the part at Leopardstown in December but has something to prove after flopping next time, while Phil's Magic is really progressive. Sandra Hughes' charge was beaten by Max Dynamite at Thurles in November. He has won his last two and won't mind these conditions.
Of the rest, Cardinal Palace has scope to do much better, having finished second to the smart Felix Yonger on his hurdle bow at Leopardstown.
Verdict: Blair Perrone has the quality to keep progressing.
5.35 Grade Three John & Chich Fowler Memorial Mares' Chase 2m 4f
Vroum Vroum Mag sets a tall standard. She has hardly turned a hair in four chasing starts and appears to relish deep ground, which she will get here.
This is as good a race as she has contested so it will be fascinating to see what transpires.
Byerley Babe lost nothing in defeat when second to Foxrock in a Leopardstown handicap in January, form that was done no harm when the winner was second in the Hennessy Gold Cup.
She misfired in this last year but is a fair sort at her best, as is Burn And Turn, which has eye-catching form in graded company, albeit on much better ground than she will encounter here.
Verdict: Impossible to oppose Vroum Vroum Mag at this stage.
6.05 Fred Kenny Novices' Handicap Chase 2m 6f
A final fence blunder cost Its The Ice I Like at Limerick. That was the third time in a row he finished second, but he is dropping back in trip a little now. That might be the key to him.
Ibtellingyoualie, Fergiethelegend and Mallards In Flight all come here on the back of a win, Mallards In Flight scoring only four days ago at Clonmel.
She has just a 4lb penalty so she warrants respect under Paul Carberry, while Coolaghknock Glebe is another to consider, having tipped up when in contention at the same track earlier in the month.
Verdict: A chance is taken on the shorter trip suiting Its The Ice I Like.
6.35 Weatherbys Ireland GSB INH Flat Race 2m
Au Quart Du Tour and Livelovelaugh failed to make an impact in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. They both looked the part previously so much more is expected now.
Anibale Fly improved on his debut to win at Navan, though the tidy Leopardstown winner Space Cadet was a mite disappointing when one-paced in defeat to Pylonthepressure at Naas.
Ice Cold Soul is unbeaten in a point-to-point and three bumpers. He saw off the subsequent winner Mall Dini at Limerick and looks a decent prospect.
Verdict: Ice Cold Soul can collect again under Finny Maguire.