'Poormans' can collect rich dividend
Should Gowran Park get the all-clear this morning, it will see Paul Townend's competitive return with the Cork jockey having plenty of live chances including Pairofbrowneyes for Willie Mullins in today's featured Leinster National (3.40).
Townend - forced to the sidelines with an ankle injury picked up from Killultagh Vic's last-fence fall in the Irish Gold Cup six weeks ago - makes his comeback just two days after Closutton compatriot Ruby Walsh returned from a 110-day absence to score with his first mount.
With Walsh heading straight to next week's Cheltenham Festival despite having just two rides under his belt, Townend picks up four rides and Pairofbrowneyes is an interesting contender for Mullins in the €100,000 feature.
After switching from Barry John Murphy's Wexford yard, the Mullins factor sees the nine-year-old head the betting despite disappointing in four successive starts - including his most recent at Leopardstown on St Stephen's Day - and value should be sought elsewhere.
Gordon Elliott leads Mullins by just over €420,000 in their duel for the Irish trainers' championship and the Meath trainer has a quartet of runners including the consistent Space Cadet but preference is for the lightly-weighted POORMANS HILL off just 10-2 in the 2m7f stamina test.
Unsuccessful in 12 starts over obstacles for Galway trainer John Neilan, the seven-year-old has thrived since his switch to Cullentra, winning six of his nine runs - three over fences and another trio over the smaller obstacles - and has the assistance of Jack Kennedy.
Fifth behind RSA Chase favourite Presenting Percy in a valuable Fairyhouse handicap chase in December before progressing to finish fourth in Navan's Troytown Chase behind the Cheltenham bound Mala Beach, Poormans Hill was subsequently a comfortable winner of two handicap hurdles and looks primed for a bold bid.
The green and white silks of Philip Reynolds, son of the late Taoiseach Albert, will be carried by leading fancies Presenting Percy and Mall Dini at the Cotswolds and he is represented by El Rouli in the aptly-named Best Of Luck To The Irish At Cheltenham Maiden Hurdle (1.55).
Henry de Bromhead's six-year-old should improve for his sluggish debut at Fairyhouse in January but is unlikely to feature at the business end while Townend and Mullins team up again with Epicuris - fifth behind Golden Horn in the 2015 Epsom Derby.
Sketchy Epicuris has disappointed twice over hurdles when looking a sketchy jumper, however, and can't be trusted at short odds whereas KEROSIN, which finished just a neck behind him at Naas last month, trades at five times his odds.
Trained in Gormanstown by James McAuley, the German-bred Listed winner on the Flat can be forgiven his last run at Punchestown and bely his price as his trainer looks to make his mark again after taking a few years out of the game.
Elliott's Three Swallowsnick - a Listed Bumper winner - is a short-priced favourite in the Gigginstown House Stud colours but hasn't seen a racecourse in 455 days when pulled up on his hurdles debut.
While she may win, the mare is likely to lack race fitness and backing the seven-year-old at short odds is not advised with Kerosin preferred at double digits, while Elliott can take the Holden Plant Rentals Shamrock Handicap Chase (3.05) with the progressive ROBIN DES MANA.
The Festival will be less than 48 hours away by the time tomorrow's meeting at Naas wheels around and any punters who can't wait for quality equine action won't be disappointed by the action at the Kildare track.
Headlined by the intriguing Listed Irish Racing Writers Kingsfurze Novice Hurdle (2.45), Mullins will hope Townend can get a tune out of Nussun Dorma, which scored easily in his two hurdles runs, but the five-year-old faces stiff competition.
Gold Cup-winning trainer Jessica Harrington has lauded the quality of her younger horses this season - Sizing Pottsie won on debut yesterday - and may be compensated for Sizing John's unfortunate absence from next week's blue riband with course and distance winner ANOTHER BARNEY under Robbie Power.
The concluding Mares Bumper (5.25) is above average with the classy COLREEVY fancied to score for Mullins.