Shark’s Stowaway to deliver on trend
While bookmakers have been enjoying the week so far as some long-priced winners have obliged and the fancied ones turned over, there has still been plenty of winners in your Herald Form pages.
That trend can continue this afternoon with one who could still be ahead of the handicapper - Shark Hanlon's MIGHTY STOWAWAY (2.25 Leopardstown).
This lad has been in fine fettle over fences, winning at Thurles and then at Punchestown when running off a handicap mark of 122 under a penalty.
This afternoon Shark sends Mighty Stowaway back over hurdles off a lower mark of 116 so, while he has plenty of weight to carry he is better than this class of race and should be making his presence felt under the top class Rachael Blackmore.
The Church Gate looks a danger under Herald columnist Robbie Power and the two can battle it out but Mighty Stowaway is given the nod.
The two big races of the day are the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle and the Savills Chase, where ROAD TO RESPECT (3.00 Leopardstown) can make Sean Flanagan's week even better by landing another Grade One.
Flanagan got engaged during the week to his fiancée Lauren and booted home a winner on St Stephen's Day in Down Royal but this will be the one he will have been looking forward to for a while now.
Road To Respect won this race last year and went on to run crackers in the Cheltenham and Punchestown Gold Cups before signing off for the season.
He returned to action with an awesome performance in the Jnwine Chase at Down Royal last month and can mark himself down as a major Gold Cup contender again in March by taking this.
Plenty of eyes will be on Road To Respect's stablemate Disko, who returns to the fold after over a year out but, even though there is plenty in opposition, Road to respect should have to many guns and can score again.
In the Christmas Hurdle Apple's Jade will be a tough nut to crack but FAUGHEEN (1.50 Leopardstown) can hopefully bring the house down yet again by seeing off the classy mare.
Faugheen was beaten by stablemate Sharjah in the Morgiana last month while Apple's Jade looked imperious in the Hatton's Grace.
They both step up to three miles today and Faugheen will strip a lot fitter for the run, having carried plenty of condition then. Three miles is his bag nowadays so, in hindsight, it wasn't a huge surprise to see him outpaced last time and, like at Punchestown last season, he can roll back the years and do the business.
Earlier, the Rich Ricci colours can also be carried to victory in the form of ELITE CHARBONIERE (12.10 Leopardstown) for Willie Mullins.
He was bought for huge money after winning a French Bumper and can make a successful Irish debut while SLIPPERY SERPENT (12.45 Leopardstown) is chosen in a wide open Pertemps qualifier. He ran well to be third at Naas last time, having won at Punchestown previously and still has few miles on the clock - he is definitely open to further improvement.
WHISPERINTHEBREEZE (1.20 Leopardstown) is a capable sort and has plenty of experience over fences having had three runs - he should give our man Power a good spin.
Finally, ASH HILL (3.35 Leopardstown) has the assistance of Derek O'Connor in the saddle for the Bumper and, after an eye-catching run last time out, looks very interesting today at the Foxrock track.