All eyes are on today's superb Fairyhouse card, featuring a trio of Grade 1 races, and our resident tipster Gary O'Brien has a pair of each-way bets to consider...
"He was raised to a career-high mark of 150 after landing a €100,000 contest at Listowel's Harvest Festival in September and backed that up with an effortless success in a Tipperary Grade 3..."
As individual race days go, you'll struggle to see better than this afternoon's glittering Fairyhouse card, and as well as providing a potentially brilliant spectacle in its own right the Grade 1 triple-header should offer valuable clues regarding the pecking order in the novice divisions in particular.
Tough to see Allen fluffing his lines
The Royal Bond Novice Hurdle, the first of the feature events at 13:00, boasts tremendous strength in depth but such is the reputation of Envoi Allen that he towers above his rivals atop the market.
Last season's top bumper performer created a terrific impression on his jumps bow at Down Royal and, hand on heart, I don't see him fluffing his lines here. That said, the likes of Abacadabras, Midnight Run and Soviet Pimpernel have already run to a very high level over flights and the last-named might offer some value "two chances" provided there are no late absentees.
The prices look about right for the Drinmore Novice Chase - Fakir D'Oudairies' performance at Navan certainly merits his position as favourite and I reckon he could be even better over today's longer trip, though Samcro and Ronald Pump are fascinating rivals.
David set to Charm his rivals at a big price
Benie Des Dieux's late defection from the Hatton's Grace Hurdle gives the feature event at 14:40 a more open look and David's Charm might just be capable of surprising a few. A very smart dual-purpose performer, John Joe Walsh's stable star landed the valuable handicap on today's card in 2017 and has continued to perform to a high level under both codes in the interim.
He was raised to a career-high mark of 150 after landing a €100,000 contest at Listowel's Harvest Festival in September and backed that up with an effortless success in a Tipperary Grade 3, though that race admittedly fell apart a bit.
Official figures leave him with a bit to find against the likes of Apples Jade and Penhill but both of those have question marks over them (form/fitness) and there could easily be more to come now that he steps up in distance. Honeysuckle has done everything right so far and is the one member of the line-up who falls into the "could be anything" category but she has to be taken on at the prices.
Returning horse/jockey combo can go well
One other bet on the card, albeit it's a speculative one, is Prince Of Scars in the Porterstown Handicap Chase at 14:05. Many will feel that this lightly-raced nine year-old is Gordon Elliott's third string at best but it is worth bearing in mind that Jack Kennedy, who partners 2018 Irish National hero General Principle, is Gigginstown's main jockey and Davy Russell is riding for his sponsor.
Denis O'Regan, who like his mount is returning from a spell on the sidelines, is a good booking for this former Grade 1 scorer over hurdles, who showed there was life left in him when a creditable sixth to Presenting Percy at Gowran Park in January off an even longer layoff.
He has yet to win a race over fences but the flipside to that is that he remains largely unexposed, particularly over today's sort of marathon distance, and it's worth bearing in mind that the stable captured a big prize yesterday with another cheap buy from its main patron in Avenir D'Une Vie.