Walsh his Own man in Hennessy
Ruby Walsh has sprung a minor surprise by opting to ride On His Own over Boston Bob in Sunday's Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown.
Bookmakers were forced to adjust their odds for the two Willie Mullins-trained runners when Walsh's name appeared next to the 11-year-old.
However, it probably should not have been seen as a shock, as On His Own could be considered a most unlucky Gold Cup runner-up and proved he still had what it takes at the highest level when second in the Lexus to Road To Riches.
Boston Bob has historically come into his own at this time of year and has some four lengths to make up on his stablemate from their Christmas run. Both horses are owned by Graham Wylie.
"There wasn't a whole pile between them at Christmas, On His Own shaded it," Walsh told Racing UK.
"It's a competitive race, it should be, and with the exception of Road To Riches and Bobs Worth it will be much the same field that ran in the Lexus with one or two more thrown in."
Mullins expects Boston Bob to strip a bit fitter.
"On His Own ran a fantastic race (in the Lexus). I'm really looking forward to him," he told At The Races.
"Boston Bob comes better in the spring and will be a lot straighter than he was in the Lexus, I think, and with the prevailing forecast, drying ground will suit him a lot better."
On not bidding for a third win in the Thyestes with On His Own, Mullins said: "I looked at his run in the Lexus and I thought we have double the prize-money at level weights (in the Hennessy), instead of carrying top weight in the Thyestes.
"Then we had Djakadam for the Thyestes and if he was as nicely handicapped as we thought, even carrying top weight, I thought he had to have his chance there."
John Kiely's Carlingford Lough has just his second start of the season having run an encouraging race in the Lexus when fifth.
Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, said: "He ran very well in the Lexus and he came out of the race in very good order. John Kiely is very happy with him so we'll just see how he gets on.
"He's got a bit to find with a few of them that ran in the Lexus, though. He's probably got it all to do. He might be able to find a couple of lengths but to be honest he was pretty straight going into the Lexus, he's not had any hold-ups.
"If we keep our fingers crossed then you never know what might happen. Hopefully all will go well and he will improve a bit. If he does you'd like to think he'd be fighting it out."
Foxrock arrives in good form having won a valuable handicap for Ted Walsh.
" He's gone up to 158, there's not a lot of options for him other than those sort of races," Walsh said.
"It was either this or go to the Bobbyjo at Fairyhouse in a couple of weeks, but Barry (Connell, owner) only lives down the road and you might only get one crack at running in a Hennessy.
"He's entitled to run in it and whether he's good enough to be in the shake-up, only time will tell. He ran well at Christmas, and as a young horse he was placed in a Grade One. He likes Leopardstown, it's a great track, one of the finest in the world, very few don't handle it."
First Lieutenant, the veteran of many big races, runs for Mouse Morris, and his jockey Bryan Cooper expects Carlingford Lough to prove hard to beat.
"It looks a wide-open race and the drying ground will be a big help to my fella," Cooper wrote in his blog for Racing FX.
"Whenever he gets decent ground he performs well and I didn't think he ran that bad in the Lexus, especially seeing as Mouse's horses weren't firing at the time.
"The one I think we all have to beat, though, is Carlingford Lough. He ran an absolute cracker in the Lexus on his first start of the season. He looks like the dark one in the field for me."