Andy Dufresne taken to complete revival mission
Punchestown's feature race tomorrow is a Grade Two novice hurdle that Willie Mullins won six times in the last decade, including with two subsequent Supreme Novice Hurdle winners, but the champion trainer isn't represented this time around.
That said, the Grade Two is still likely to throw up a decent winner and it could serve as a revival mission for Gordon Elliott's ANDY DUFRESNE (2.40, Punchestown).
The son of Doyen cost JP McManus £330,000 at the sales after a point-to-point victory, but he lost his unbeaten record to Latest Exhibition at Navan last time out and connections are opting to go back in trip now which may well reap rewards.
"Andy Dufresne got beaten by a very good horse of Paul Nolan's last time (Latest Exhibition) and he's been in good shape since then. The way he jumps and travels two miles should be no problem for him," Elliott said this week.
Joseph O'Brien is well represented in the race and it must be significant that he gives a hurdling debut to Meticulous in a race of this nature, while the progressive Anything Will Do is on a four-timer.
However, the one to note as a most likely rival to Andy Dufresne is the Henry de Bromhead-trained Captain Guinness, who made a winning start at Navan last time out.
Captain Guinness is the least experienced in the race, but the small field will be a help and he could be one that makes it into a few notebooks.
Elliott may add another winner on the card courtesy of CHEB DE KERVINIOU (2.10, Punchestown) when teaming up with Patrick Mullins.
The champion amateur can often be the nemesis of Elliott in bumper races but is booked to ride the French import on just his second start for the Elliott yard after a promising effort at Fairyhouse on New Year's Day.
Willie Mullins may not have a runner in the Grade Two Moscow Flyer Hurdle, but one of his initial entries, BLACKBOW (3.45, Punchestown), does pitch up in the concluding Racing TV Club Day Today Maiden Hurdle.
The finale also sees the talented Santa Rossa make her hurdle debut and it'll be fascinating to see how she fares out as a Grade Two bumper winner for Dermot McLoughlin.
Blackbow was a final flight faller last time out at Navan, in the race won by Captain Guinness and Willie Mullins looks to have found a nice opportunity for him to open his account in this sphere.
The Grade Three Killiney Novice Chase features the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle winner CITY ISLAND (1.05, Punchestown) who is a tentative choice over Carefully Selected.
Martin Brassil's stable star made a bad mistake on his chasing debut at Leopardstown over Christmas and has opted to go straight into graded company rather than seek another beginners'.
But the trip of 2m4f this weekend should suit better and the Grade One scorer can get back to winning ways here.
ROXBORO ROAD (1.35, Punchestown) has been in the wars a bit of late. He slipped up when going well here on his penultimate start and took a crashing fall at Leopardstown over Christmas since. He appears to have the ability and if completing he should be in with a big say.
CHEROKEE BILL (12.30, Punchestown) is coming down the ratings but looks suited by the conditions of the opening beginners' chase.
12.30 Cherokee Bill
1.05 City island
1.35 Roxboro Road
2.10 Cheb De Kerviniou
2.40 Andy Dufrense
3.15 Minx Tiara