Quality is order of the day in Leopardstown
It looks set to be a case of quality over quantity at Leopardstown this weekend with just six runners standing their ground in the BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle on Saturday.
The Ladbrokes Dublin Chase on the opening day of the Dublin Racing Festival has attracted just nine runners and 13 stand their ground in Sunday's Unibet Irish Gold Cup.
With Laurina not being left in the Irish Champion Hurdle at yesterday's five-day stage, Willie Mullins will rely solely on Melon for Saturday's feature race and Ruby Walsh is hopeful that he'll have stepped forward from Christmas to challenge Apple's Jade as she drops back to two miles.
"I think he got tired on the approach to the last hurdle at Christmas and got running again in the last 50 yards," Walsh said yesterday.
"He seems to have improved a lot but he'll have to improve a lot as Apple's Jade will be a tough nut to crack. She has been very good on her last two performances but Melon's run behind Buveur D'air in last season's Champion Hurdle is his strongest run and if he can reproduce that hopefully he can give Apple's Jade a race."
Walsh's mount in the Dublin Chase won't be decided until tomorrow morning when the final fields for Saturday will be declared but the 12-time champion jockey has reported both Footpad and Min to be ready for their latest Grade One assignment.
"They are two top class horses," Walsh continued. "Footpad got a little tired over Christmas and Min was brilliant in the John Durkan over two and a half miles and they both seem to be in really good form.
"I haven't discussed what I'll be riding with Willie yet and won't be until Thursday morning."