Punters can bank on Dedigout
There may not be anything of quite the same quality as last year's Powers Gold Cup hero Flemenstar among tomorrow's six-strong line-up, but the Fairyhouse Grade One, nonetheless, promises to be yet another cracking affair.
Four deeply progressive recent winners will bid to plunder the €58,500 first prize and the two others aren't half-bad, either.
One is the mercurial Ruby Walsh-ridden Mikael D'Haguenet, a talented, but error-prone triple Grade One scorer that is charged with delivering Willie Mullins an elusive first success in this two-and-a-half-mile feature.
The other is last year's Irish Champion Hurdle runner-up Oscars Well. Successful in both of its first two completed starts over fences, Jessica Harrington's dual Grade One winner has come up just short on its two latest attempts at the highest level.
On both occasions, latterly when chasing home Cheltenham victor Benefficient in Leopardstown's Arkle, he stayed on at the death over two miles, giving the distinct impression that a return to this trip might suit. As such, Robbie Power's mount is feared, but it might be worth investing some faith in the less exposed contenders.
Henry de Bromhead relies on Buckers Bridge, beaten just once in five career starts here in December. He returned to form with a vengeance to out-battle Twinlight at Navan last month and is an honest sort that will relish the prevailing conditions.
The suspicion, though, is that, like Realt Mor, he might not be quite enough here. Realt Mor's handler Gordon Elliott also saddles Mount Benbulben.
Another precocious horse that has a tendency to jump erratically, Mount Benbulben, got its act together under Danny Mullins at Thurles last time.
Dedigout also returned to something close to its best at Naas three weeks ago. A Grade One novice hurdle winner at Punchestown last spring, Tony Martin's seven-year-old also obliged at this festival 12 months ago.
Running in the colours of Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud, he got his chasing career off to a good start at the Kildare venue in November and finished second to Arvika Ligeonniere here in the Drinmore, before turning in a couple of poor performances, including when fourth to Buckers Bridge in February. Since then, he bounced back to form at Naas, leaving Twinlight 18 lengths behind.
That margin may have been exaggerated by Twinlight's failure to stay, but it was still a markedly improved effort.
All told, Dedigout remains a horse of serious potential, so this is an opportunity for him to confirm as much under Davy Russell now.
In the inaugural Grade One Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares' Novice Hurdle, Willie Mullins has half of the six runners.
Mick Winters' game Missunited is maybe most likely to thwart the champion trainer, but Annie Power is a formidable contender.
Unbeaten in six, Mullins' mare had Defy Logic and Don Cossack among some high-profile victims at Naas last time. If she reproduces that, she could win at her ease.
Her peerless rider Walsh is also trusted to collect on the nap selection Smart Money in the Gleesons Butchers Novices' Handicap Hurdle.
Jim Culloty's charge didn't quite get home over further last time, so the drop to two miles here should suit.
The 10-runner Grade Two Coolmore Novice Hurdle is another brilliantly competitive affair on the first leg of the Co Meath venue's three-day Easter spread, with Paul Nolan's AP McCoy-ridden Defy Logic the one to beat.
However, Dessie Hughes' Bright New Dawn is just preferred, despite having to concede weight all round.
Fortuitous when JP McManus' Venture Capital crashed out with fatal consequences at Thurles a month ago, Bright New Dawn is a handsome horse with bundles of class.
He had previously found only the subsequent Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Champagne Fever too strong in a Leopardstown Grade One and the suspicion is that he can produce the improvement required to go in again here under Russell.