Russell roadshow to roll on with Champs
It will be a real surprise if the jockeys' championship trailblazer Davy Russell doesn't further enhance his impressive lead of 23 over Paul Carberry by the end of the day.
On the first part of Fairyhouse's flagship two-day winter fixture, the Youghal native has a particularly strong book.
Willie Mullins' Cheltenham Festival-winning Sir Des Champs is probably the best of Russell's lot in the beginners' chase. Successful on its debut for Mullins at Navan in January, the Robin Des Champs gelding is an immensely promising prospect.
Of Russell's other Gigginstown Stud-owned mounts, Uncle Tom Cobley appeals as a potential value option.
The Conor O'Dwyer-trained six-year-old faces 11 rivals in what is a competitive renewal of the Bar One Racing Ballyhack Handicap Chase.
Tommy Carberry's Peak Raider has a squeak here, while recent winners I Hear A Symphony and Out Now could prove formidable opponents. The latter remains unexposed on just his fifth chasing start and Paddy Mangan's three-pound claim will help to alleviate a 10lb hike for his wide-margin triumph at Clonmel.
Still, Uncle Tom Cobley really caught the eye at Cork recently.
On his first start since May, he raced typically keenly early on, with Russell not giving him too hard a time of it once he blew up rounding the turn for home.
Uncle Tom Cobley has been dropped a pound for that, and is expected to strip fitter now.
In the preceding handicap hurdle, Russell's booking on Sweet Shock is of note, as is Dermot Weld's decision to put him on New Phase in the Trinity Motor Neuron Disease Research Hurdle. Mikael D'Haguenet is one of a few in the eight-runner conditions race that has a superior rating to the selection, but New Phase is on the up.
Either side of a disappointing turn in the MCR Hurdle at Leopardstown in January, he cantered up in the same conditions race at Cork. In this year's edition last month, he accounted for both Psycho and Kempes, form that recommends him again now.
Star Neuville should cut a more relaxed figure for Brian Hayes in the opening maiden after racing with far too much zeal on his jumping bow at Naas, while Willie Mullins' Quiscover Fontaine gets the nod in the valuable two-mile handicap hurdle. Fourth in the Irish Grand National off a rating of 142, his hurdle mark of 124 is favourable.