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'Charlie to push Jewson claims

MORE Cheltenham Festival questions will be posed this weekend, but depending on how accurate the weather forecasts are across the water, any questions that are to be answered could just be on this side of the Irish Sea.

Naas and Fairyhouse should both throw up a few clues, answers and possibly burst a few bubbles along the way, although the ground is set to be extremely testing at both meetings - hopefully something that we will not encounter at Cheltenham come March.

Tomorrow's Grade Two Woodlands Park 100 Club Novice Chase hasn't a recent record of throwing up Cheltenham winners, although subsequent Grade One winner Quito De La Roque did win the race in 2011, but heading the field tomorrow is Willie Mullins' Aupcharlie.

Aupcharlie (left) was placed in a Champion Bumper at Cheltenham back in 2011 and the following season joined Willie Mullins, for whom he has had two starts over fences this term, winning the first at Gowran Park and then finishing second behind stable companion Back In Focus in the Grade One Topaz Novice Chase at Christmas.

That Leopardstown outing was a very satisfactory one for the trainer as he saddled the 1-2 in a Grade One and afterwards Mullins immediately admitted: "He could be a horse for the Jewson. The way he jumped he could even come back to the minimum trip.

"That was only his second run over fences and he's run a fantastic race."

Mullins may not be stepping back to the minimum trip with Aupcharlie, but instead keeping him at three miles to put his Jewson credentials to the test.

Texas Jack, Lord Windermere and Canaly form the opposition to Aupcharlie, but the Alan and Ann Potts colours should be carried to a comprehensive victory with expected progression from that recent Leopardstown effort.

Also at Naas is the Limestone Lad Hurdle over 2m3f and again Mullins appears to hold the best hand with Zaidpour likely to mop up another Graded contest on testing ground.

Zaidpour's (below) World Hurdle claims were dashed with defeat in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown but he should return to winning ways in the Grade Three where Oliver McKiernan's Whatuthink will bid to cause another upset from the front and Solwhit will try and return to his best form after an extremely pleasing return to action on New Year's Eve at Punchestown.

The Irish Racing Writers Novice Hurdle is an interesting renewal with Leopardstown winners Mumbo Jumbo and Tangled Web both set to put big reputations on the line but the Willie Mullins representative Touch The Eden could again have too much in reserve for that pair.

Little will change on Sunday at Fairyhouse where Willie Mullins is again the man to try and beat although that would appear an unenviable task in the Listed Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle.

Mullins has an array of top quality mares, most of whom are novices, at his disposal this season and it will be interesting to see which way he delegates them come the Cheltenham Festival.

Again the Rich Ricci colours come to the fore and Annie Power's unbeaten record should be maintained following this 2m2f event.

The big handicap chase is the prestigious Dan Moore and while Mullins has likely favourite Lambro, honours may go elsewhere with Arthur Moore saddling Irish Grand National winner Organisedconfusion and course and distance winner Lastoftheleaders, the latter of which gets the nod.