Walsh holding all the aces
RUBY Walsh will be hoping that Fairyhouse passes its 7.30 morning inspection as he looks to have a strong book of rides at the Meath venue this afternoon.
The threat of severe overnight frost has prompted the Fairyhouse executive to take an early look, and the champion jockey will be anxious to see the fixture get the green light.
Walsh's day should get off to the ideal start courtesy of Shuil Aris in the opening Ratoath Mares Maiden Hurdle. Paul Nolan's lightly raced nine-year-old returns to timber after pulling up over fences at Down Royal , and she certainly has the best form in the race.
This former Punchestown bumper winner was a close second to the smart Major Finnegan in a Limerick maiden hurdle three seasons back, and she's entitled to shed her maiden tag over obstacles at the expense of Taipers.
The leading jockey should combine with Willie Mullins to land the next race, the Easter Festival 2010 Novice Hurdle with Arvika Ligeonniere. The French import failed to justify favouritism in a bumper on his first run for Mullins, but bounced back when breaking his duck over hurdles at this track last month.
The five-year-old should outpace Summit Meeting, which represents the in-form Jessica Harrington yard, and John Berry's course and distance winner Mick The Tooth, which failed to impress in Listed company at Thurles.
Mullins relies on Grade Two novice hurdle winner Kempes in the beginners chase, but the worry is that Walsh's mount is likely to be seen in a better light on more suitable ground.
This seven-year-old has disappointed on a couple of occasions on heavy ground this season, and the vote goes to Noel Meade's former Cheltenham winner Nicanor which ran his best race over the larger obstacles when just edged out by An Cathaoir Mor last time.
Meade also has decent prospects of landing the Ballybin Maiden Hurdle with West Of The Border which belied his 25/1 odds when a close third to Acapulco at Naas a fortnight ago.
The Timothy Doyle-trained Mazara looks to have been dealt a feasible initial mark in the handicap hurdle, while Ruby links up with his father Ted's recent Punchestown scorer Seabass in the novice handicap chase and the seven-year-old can defy a 9lb hike.
The Meade newcomer, Eye And Ear, and Gordon Elliott's Our Aodh will have plenty supporters in the closing bumper, and the latter's experience may be vital under Robbie McNamara.