I won a maiden hurdle on him when he was trained by Willie last season, when he also progressed to win a Grade 3 at Clonmel over 2m6f in heavy ground. He was highly tried in Grade 1 company thereafter and on the face of it he again ran moderately on his chasing debut for Joseph at Fairyhouse recently. But he ran a lot better than his distant fourth in that race suggests – it was a decent race, too – and he was entitled to need the experience. He clearly has to improve to be competitive against one or two of these, but the potential is there and his best hurdling form gives him every chance.
1.20 pm Punchestown
There are only six runners in here but this looks a very tricky and competitive race. Tycoon Prince is a horse that I have a lot of time for, and we were going to start him off over fences earlier in the season, and that is where his future lies I think. But he still had some smart form over hurdles last season and I would ignore his last run at Aintree, as he came back lame there. And Gordon runs him in a hood for the first time here. But you have to respect Monksland in this grade, and Willie’s Sure Reef was winning a Grade 2 the last time we saw him on a track well over two years ago. And his horses aren’t in bad form, are they?
It made sense to side with this one over Icario, who was brought down at the first at Leopardstown earlier in the month. Icario has a lot of potential but Dakota Moirette looks the more solid proposition at this stage. Even though the winner was well beaten in a Grade 2 on Boxing Day, I thought he ran well when second at Fairyhouse last time and this looks a fair opportunity for him to go one better. There are a couple of decent sorts in here from the Flat, though.
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