FAKIERA (1.40) can get off the mark for Gordon Elliott in the opening maiden hurdle at Thurles.
The five-year-old has finished runner-up on his last two starts, most recently at Leopardstown when outpointed by the Willie Mullins-trained favourite Jon Snow. That came over 2m 2f, but this slightly shorter trip should present no difficulty.
Politesse impressed when landing a mares’ flat race here last month and rates a threat on hurdles debut. Joseph O’Brien’s Arthurian Flame, a dual winner on the Flat, was considered good enough to contest the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot last summer but so far hasn’t set the heather on fire over hurdles .
MARY FRANCES (2.10) receives plenty of weight from her rivals and left the impression she was an improving mare when landing a competitive Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle and can give punters a great run for their money in the 2m 6f BetVictor Hurdle.
This represents a slight rise in class, with Jetz and Karl Der Grosse worthy of consideration. The former didn’t cut much ice over fences earlier in the season but looked much more at home when returned to the smaller obstacles at Leopardstown, finishing second to useful Charli Parcs. Willie Mullins trains Karl Der Grosse, off the track for more than 400 days since pulling up as if something was amiss. He is lightly raced, landing a Tramore bumper before taking third spot at Galway. Market vibes should be noted.
Sixteen runners contest the BetVictor Handicap Hurdle so shop around for the best each-way terms in a very open affair. Goulane Jessie was sent off favourite for a similar contest at Fairyhouse in January and has been nudged up 2lb after finishing third to Highest Benefit. She looks sure to be well supported again but stablemate BALLEA FOX (2.40) can also go close. The gelding was runner-up over course and distance in February before winning next time at Punchestown. He ran at Limerick six days ago so comes here fighting fit. Paddy Power are top price, five places.
SIZING POTTSIE (3.10) arrives at the top of his game for Jessica Harrington and is capable of conceding weight all round. He ran right away from Cut The Mustard after jumping to the front at the last fence at Navan in the Flyingbolt Chase and should handle principal rivals Zero Ten and Dallas Des Pictons. Emmet Mullins saddled Zero Ten to chase home Cash Back at Naas in January (Dunvegan fourth and held on that run) but his gelding hit the deck when sent off long odds-on at Punchestown last month. Dallas Des Pictons responded to first-time blinkers when fourth in a tight finish at Naas and the Gigginstown runner will be popular under Davy Russell.
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