Rule The World napped to make winning return
RULE THE WORLD completes a swift recovery after fracturing his pelvis at Punchestown in April with a reappearance at Naas this afternoon, one of an array of fascinating strands to what are two compelling bank holiday fixtures.
At Galway, the towering Don Cossack embarks on his chasing career in the same Gigginstown House Stud colours that Rule The World will sport, while JP McManus' similarly gangly but talented Defy Logic switches to the bigger obstacles at the Kildare venue.
Both horses should live up to expectations for this afternoon at least, but it will be intriguing to see how they fence with regard to more testing future assignments, as awkwardness can often be an inevitable burden for such angular individuals.
In winning a Fairyhouse bumper and maiden hurdle by an aggregate 69 lengths on his first two outings last term, the Paul Nolan-trained Defy Logic hinted at his potential.
His keen, front-running tendency rendered him vulnerable in better company on his last two starts, but there was no great shame in finding only Annie Power and Mala Beach too strong those days.
On the assumption that fences will help Mark Walsh to get him to spit the bit out today, the Flemensfirth six-year-old should be too good for his eight rivals in the two-mile Weatherbys Ireland GSB Beginners' Chase.
Rule The World's participation in the conditions hurdle is doubtless what prompted Davy Russell to eschew the mount on the talented Don Cossack at Ballybrit.
He was one of the most exciting novice hurdlers last term and justified Mouse Morris' decision to bring him to Cheltenham with a fine second to the new Champion Hurdle favourite, The New One, in the Neptune Novices' Hurdle.
What happened at Punchestown subsequently was unfortunate, but Morris wouldn't have him back so soon if he wasn't convinced that he has made a 100pc recovery.
Today, Rule The World can justify the nap vote by seeing off the hat-trick-seeking Captain Arceus and also Waaheb to set himself up for some major staying hurdle targets.
In the featured €27,500 Poplar Chase, the champion jockey has predictably deserted his employer's Sweeney Tunes (third at Wexford yesterday) to fill in for Gordon Elliott's injured riders Davy Condon and Paul Carberry aboard Realt Mor.
With conditions to suit the mud-loving Powers Gold Cup hero, he certainly has a live chance. Oscars Well is another with real prospects, but this might go to Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh via Twinlight, which won four times last year in testing going over this two-mile trip.
The same all-conquering firm could also take the Brown Lad Handicap Hurdle with Sarabad, while the exciting Akorakor is fancied to secure the opening maiden hurdle for the Morris-Gigginstown-Russell axis.
Russell will be sorry to have had to vacate the ride on Don Cossack in the west and it's hard to imagine that Elliott's classy six-year-old won't plunder the WB Gavin & Co EBF Beginners' Chase in his absence under Andrew Lynch.
Noel Meade's Corbally Ghost – successful on three occasions this time two years ago, including when taking a Cork Grade Three – is probably the pick of his eight rivals. However, he surely has it all to do against such a smart animal on his return from a 687-day lay-off.