Veteran De Benno can roll back the years
It wouldn't be a valuable handicap chase if Gigginstown House Stud and JP McManus weren't firing plenty of arrows in its direction but both powerhouses may be upset by a lesser light in today's feature at Limerick.
The McManus trio of Nearly Nama'd, Landofhopeandglory and Coeur Joyeux are hard to fancy on all recent form in the Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Chase (2.40) but Gigginstown's Burren Life is a particularly interesting contender for the €50,000 prize.
The mount of Keith Donoghue - fresh from his first Grade One success aboard Hardline at the Patrickswell track yesterday - holds leading claims for Cullentra maestro Gordon Elliott.
The six-year-old is one of the few unexposed types in the race and ran a belter behind Noel Meade's De Name Escapes Me in a competitive Navan handicap chase earlier this month.
John Patrick Ryan's Kylecrue was just behind that day and could well belie his long odds, while Rooster Byron - trained by Paul Nolan - is another one to note.
Having just his second chase start against seasoned campaigners, the seven-year-old is clearly held in high esteem by the Wexford trainer to be pitched in with this company.
Evan Daly's mount has been campaigned over hurdles since winning his beginners chase at Clonmel in March but may need conditions on the easier side to show his best.
Last year's winner De Benno is on the opposite end of the spectrum as he turns 14 years in the New Year but the likeable grey hasn't lost any of his zest for the game. Returning for another tilt carrying just 2lbs more than 12 months ago for the successful combination of James Grace and Cathal Landers, he can provide Grace with his first winner of the season.
Baby Twig has been off the track over two years but has obvious appeal for Elliott in the mares maiden hurdle (1.0), although she may find one too good in stablemate Edene D'arc.
Edene D'arc's third in Limerick's Listed Champion Flat Race in April marks her out as a tough nut to crack in an average maiden and if she takes to jumping, Donoghue can do the business on the four-year-old filly.
Trainer/jockey Denis Hogan got on the mark for the festive period yesterday and looks to have an improving sort in the shape of Neatly Put in the handicap hurdle (1.30).
Having shown little in four maiden hurdle runs, the eight-year-old returned from a 869-day lay-off to show some promise when fourth in a handicap hurdle at Thurles last month and can improve enough to land a blow in a moderate contest.
There are others with more obvious jumps form than Kerosin in the concluding novice hurdle (3.45) but his recent form on the level at Dundalk definitely brings him into the mix.
The switch to Hogan's Tipperary yard has seen him rediscover some of his former glory on the Flat - winning off 88 at Dundalk three weeks ago - and he may notch another win here.