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Mullins set to Fly on epic weekend

TWO former Champion Hurdle winners, exciting novices, seasoned handicappers and €150,000 worth of potential bonuses courtesy of Boylesports mean that nowhere on these shores this weekend will you find better sporting action than at Leopardstown.

First things first and credit has to be given to the track for doing their very best to ensure the meeting reaches its full potential as they moved the Frank Ward Solicitors Irish Arkle to tomorrow's card from Sunday for fears that forecasted rain could leave Sunday in doubt.

Sunday's clash of Hurricane Fly and Binocular is the main focus of attention though as the 2010 and 2011 Stan James Champion Hurdle winners lock horns in the 2013 renewal of the BHP Irish Champion Hurdle.

It is likely to be Hurricane Fly's stiffest task at Leopardstown where he has been a comprehensive winner of all five of his races around the Dublin track. However, if he turns up in the same sort of form that saw him win the Istabraq Hurdle this should be Grade One win number 14 for the nine-year-old.

Binocular hasn't raced since finishing fourth to Rock On Ruby in the Champion Hurdle last March, a race which saw a seemingly out of sorts Hurricane Fly finish third and a length in front of him and there is little reason to see a reversal on this occasion.


Captain Cee Bee has seven lengths to find on the Istabraq Hurdle run and that would seem unlikely also, meaning that unless we have an accident of biblical proportions, Hurricane Fly will reign supreme yet again.

Willie Mullins' stance as Ireland's leading trainer looks under no threat as his ammunition continues to grow and that is certainly emphasised by his entries in all the big races this coming weekend.

In the rescheduled Arkle tomorrow it is Arvika Ligeonniere who represents the Mullins outfit as he seeks a third consecutive Grade One over fences, which in turn would be four from four over the larger obstacles.

Oscars Well again challenges in the small field but the odds-on favourite here is a worthy one and he will undoubtedly be staking strong claims for the Racing Post Arkle at Cheltenham in little over six weeks' time.

Tomorrow now features two very interesting novice chases with the 2m5f Boylesports.com Novice Chase also on the running order and here Mullins will look to Albert Bartlett runner-up Boston Bob to put forward his credentials for another assault on the Cotswolds.

The bookmakers watched him struggle to shrug off Henry de Bromhead's You Must Know on his debut at Navan when a 1/5 shot and de Bromhead this time pitches up with Buckers Bridge who most would imagine is higher up the ranking in County Waterford than You Must Know.


Buckers Bridge was no match for Arvika Ligeonniere last time out, although that run in the Drinmore was probably too bad to be true and Lord Windermere won his beginners' chase well here at Christmas so it's a tasty Grade Two that was won last year by Sir Des Champs.

The most valuable contest of the whole afternoon is the Boylesports.com Hurdle for which Inis Meain is the antepost favourite ever since betting and entries emerged.

Rattan tops the weights and is one of four Willie Mullins runners in the race, while owner JP McManus also holds a strong claim.

Last year's winning trainer, Jessica Harrington, will bid for more glory, while Tony Martin's Ted Veale is likely to be popular. as is the Champion Hurdle entry King Of Queens for Tom Mullins.

Picking the winner of that and the Leopardstown Chase are two unenviable tasks for jackpot chasers and anyone picking the winner of both would deserve a big pot at the end of it.

The Leopardstown Chase was won last year by Seabass and Shark Hanlon's highly regarded Hidden Cyclone tops the weights on this occasion.

Again Willie Mullins is expected to be to the fore with Lambro the likely favourite and a worthy one on what he has done so far, although a lack of a run since May would cause reservations.

Paddy Power Chase fancy Glam Gerry gets in with just 10st and Eric McNamara's Questions Answered is likely to relish the ground off a relatively light weight also, so this is just as competitive as you would expect for an €80,000 affair.