'Sams' to leave Mouse and Cooper smiling
Lofty reputations will be put on the line when Gordon Elliott's Battleoverdoyen and Willie Mullins' Tornado Flyer collide in tomorrow's Grade One Lawlor's of Naas Novice Hurdle (1.50).
Nine go to post in the €90,000 Naas feature but all eyes will be on this talented duo, both of which are general 12/1 shots for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Last year's Punchestown Champion Bumper winner Tornado Flyer did everything expected of him when scoring on his hurdling debut last month without setting the world alight.
Having raced a tad keenly, further improvement is expected under Ruby Walsh in a race which Mullins has won six times in the last nine runnings while Battleoverdoyen - a €260,000 purchase by Gigginstown two years ago - was a comfortable winner on his hurdling debut.
While visually impressive at Navan, the form of that maiden hurdle is not inspiring and there's little value between the standout pair at the head of the market.
It can pay to look elsewhere and Sams Profile is an each-way alternative with real possibilities. Held in high regard by Mouse Morris, there should be more to come from Bryan Cooper's mount on just his third start over hurdles. A couple of jumping errors cost him dearly when going down to front-runner Derrinross in a Cork Grade Three a month ago and that form has been franked with Philip Dempsey's charge subsequently landing a Grade Two.
The five-year-old should make the frame and belie his big odds on what could be a special weekend for Cooper after returning from concussion following a nasty fall last week.
Elliott's Missy Tata could score on her chasing debut in the Mares Beginners Chase (3.20) but she's likely to need the run after over two years off the racecourse and Cooper can capitalise.
Meri Devie was a decent hurdler when trained by Mullins last season but having changed hands and been switched to Paul Nolan, she is of serious interest under the Kerry jockey if taking to fences.
Mark Walsh was in superb form over Christmas and an 8lb rise shouldn't stop him guiding recent course-and-distance winner Punches Cross to victory in the Eastcoast Seafood & Gouldings Hardware Handicap Chase (2.20) for Joseph O'Brien.
Nolan and Cooper can also land the www.corkracecourse.ie Handicap Hurdle (1.55) at Cork today with Rooster Byron - back over hurdles after an early exit at Limerick - while Tom Mullins' Court Maid looks primed to take the opener (12.20).