Tombstone can bury Fairyhouse opposition for 'super-sub' Russell
Davy Russell is trusted to deliver the nap vote on day one of Fairyhouse's Winter Festival when he partners Tombstone in the first leg of the maiden hurdle.
With Bryan Cooper, Barry Geraghty and Ruby Walsh on duty in England, there are some decent spares going at the Co Meath track, where the ground will be predominantly soft.
Russell steps in for Cooper on the Gordon Elliott-trained Tombstone for his former Gigginstown Stud employers. Willie Mullins relies on Pylonthepressure, which won a point-to-point and two bumpers prior to finishing fifth behind Bellshill in a Punchestown Grade One last spring.
Maybe Pylonthepressure will be hard to beat, but Tombstone is no slouch. Third on its Wexford hurdle bow a year ago, he improved to beat Potter's Point in a Naas bumper in January. The son of Robin Des Champs only reappeared at Down Royal on October 30, when he looked to have matured into a decent type by careering clear at short odds.
Tombstone switches back to hurdles now. There is little doubt that he is a better horse than when he first tackled flights in 2014, so he is fancied to collect under Russell.
Elliott might also take the €30,000 mares' handicap chase courtesy of Miss Dinamic. Solita and Indian Fairy are recent winners with chances, but Miss Dinamic's second to Vroum Vroum Mag at Clonmel constituted a fine turn.
While this won't be easy under top-weight on her handicap bow, she has the assistance up top of Jack Kennedy. The talented five-pound claimer might also have a decent spin in the €50,000 handicap hurdle if Henry Higgins bounces back to form.
However, preferred in that is Wes Hardin. Noel Meade's charge was running well when he slipped up at Down Royal last month, and he lost little in defeat at Punchestown two weeks ago.
On that occasion, he was unlucky not to finish closer when second to Colla Pier. This won't be easy off a three-pound higher mark, but he is progressive enough to go close for Ger Fox.
Mullins has an array of live chances throughout the day, starting with Alvisio Ville in the beginners' chase. An oversized type that ran well at the highest level as a novice last term, the JP McManus-owned grey is built for this job.
If he enjoys some luck in running, he ought to collect for Mark Walsh, though it isn't a bad race by any means, with the likes of Marinero, Bonny Kate and Champagne James all capable sorts.
Gigginstown's Nambour, already successful in a point-to-point and a Punchestown bumper, should win the second division of the maiden hurdle, while in the bumper Mullins unleashes Tarare. A "point" winner in March 2013, this six-year-old son of Astarabad is a half-brother to the champion trainer's classy mare, Tarla.
He has clearly been slow to come to hand or had problems, but you would imagine that he should go close in what isn't the strongest race of its type.
In the valuable handicap chase, Robert Tyner's Philip Enright-ridden Leap Dearg ought to be a big player, having simply tired a little when second on its Cork return.