Von Trappe can hit high note for Elliott
Don Cossack's reappearance tomorrow would be a boon for Punchestown but today's card at the Kildare venue reflects the reality that rain will be needed before the jumps season begins in earnest.
In general, the card is well populated, but just three horses will line out in the €20,000 conditions hurdle and six in a €13,000 beginners' chase.
Officials at the track have been compelled to artificially water ground that was yesterday being given as good, good-to-firm in places.
The unseasonably dry ground could well exclude Don Cossack from tomorrow's Grade Three and is likely to have had plenty to do with the champion trainer Willie Mullins not having a single runner on today's card.
Don Cossack's handler Gordon Elliott has a handful on duty, and two of his Gigginstown Stud representatives are fancied to oblige.
He saddles Captain Von Trappe for Michael O'Leary's ownership vehicle in the beginners' chase. A point-to-point winner last year, Bryan Cooper's mount got off the mark on the track at the third time of asking in a Naas maiden hurdle last March.
The big son of Germany was like a fish out of water in a competitive Fairyhouse handicap next time, but rounded off the campaign with a more encouraging effort to be second in novices' company at Kilbeggan in May.
Captain Von Trappe reappears for a first time now.
On form to date, some of his five rivals, including stablemate Knight's Parade, have achieved more. However, this fellow appeals as being the best chasing prospect on show and warrants the nap vote to confirm as much.
The same firm is tipped to collect with Roman Gold in an earlier maiden hurdle. This is a competitive 12-runner affair, with Rathmuck Native and Moylisha Tim among those that have been running well lately.
Roman Gold hasn't been seen since his effort petered out tamely when fifth in a Navan bumper in March. He had finished second at Clonmel prior to that, and, while he is probably no star, he might be of a slightly better standard than his opposition.
In the conditions race, Gigginstown rely on Henry de Bromhead's Identity Thief, a bumper and maiden hurdle winner that proved a little disappointing thereafter last term. He is a live contender in this, but Modem is marginally favoured to emerge on top.
Jessica Harrington's Galway victor had been similarly frustrating since winning his maiden over flights. At Listowel last time, though, he knuckled down well to see off Cardinal Palace, which was just denied in a Chepstow Grade Two on Sunday.
Modem seems to be maturing, so he should have Identity Thief's measure if they run to their respective ratings.
In the handicap hurdle, rising star Donagh Meyler can get on the score-sheet aboard Kieran Purcell's You Can't Catch Me, a consistent performer that will benefit from its rider's seven-pound claim.