Steps To Freedom the one to side with
BOB LINGO and Cause Of Causes, first and second in the two marquee events at Galway 12 months ago, are both on duty this evening at what is another intriguing Killarney card.
The Ballybrit theme has been strong at the glorious Kerry venue, partly due to last night's appearance of the 2012 Galway Hurdle hero Rebel Fitz.
With The Real Article, such a controversial contender in the Hurdle in 2011 and a runner again last year, also tackling Cause Of Causes' two-mile beginners' chase here, the upcoming western gala is sure to be on everyone's minds again. Second to Beachdale Lad at Roscommon, The Real Article ought to contend here for Barry Geraghty, though Cause Of Causes is harder to evaluate.
So consistent last term, he was purchased by JP McManus before being tamely beaten on his chasing debut at Roscommon.
Gordon Elliott's charge will doubtless have big days in him over fences and he will enjoy the prevailing fast ground, but he didn't really shape with any imminent promise last time.
All told, Steps To Freedom is fancied as nap material in what should be a fascinating encounter.
Jessica Harrington's seven-year-old has a poor win ratio for a horse of his calibre, but he was unlucky not to get his chasing career off to a perfect start when flashing home late before Arnaud succeeded in holding him off by just a half a length at the same Roscommon meeting.
If Robbie Power's mount improves any on that, he will be the one to beat now.
In the €23,500 Ashes Bar Glenbeigh Handicap Hurdle, Elliott and Davy Condon get the nod to score with Jamsie Hall, which reverts to the smaller obstacles off a 26lb lower mark.
A hurdle winner at Tramore last year, the 10-year-old twice ran well enough over flights back in May, but today's two-mile-six-furlong contest is over a more suitably longer trip.
Last year's victor Black Benny and Cara's Oscar, a progressive sort that beat subsequent winner Imperial Shabra at Roscommon in June, are probably the selection's main dangers.
The Tom Mullins-trained Bob Lingo, McManus' game 2012 Galway Plate winner, is on duty on the level in the opening Sika Signs Maiden, a race that he finished second in last year.
Ruby Walsh rides Tony Martin's dual bumper winner Lagan Canal in the one-mile-six-furlong affair, but preference is for Dermot Weld's Pat Smullen-ridden Train Of Thought.
Third in the farcical amateur riders' race at Leopardstown last time, the Sadlers Wells five-year-old has six places to show from eight Flat starts.
As such, he is frustrating, but he couldn't reasonably be accused of being anything less than that.