Timeform Irish SmartPlays: Thursday December 29

The Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle is the feature race from Leopardstown on Thursday
The Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle is the feature race from Leopardstown on Thursday

Timeform pick out three bets from Leopardstown on Thursday.

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Skelligs Rock - Leopardstown 12:20

The opening 21-furlong handicap can go to Skelligs Rock. He has bits of form that make him of interest now handicapping over fences, including when finishing fourth to Space Cadet in a beginners' chase at Roscommon in October. Arthur Moore now reaches for the cheekpieces with Skelligs Rock, but that could well be a positive, while the fact that Shane Shortall takes over from a claimer (albeit a very capable one in Donagh Meyley, who rides Dallas Cowboy in this race) is another positive.

Nichols Canyon - Leopardstown 14:30

Nichols Canyon made an impressive return in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown last month and he can make it successive wins in the Ryanair Hurdle, another Grade 1 contest. Willie Mullins is going through a hot spell, even by his standards, and Nichols Canyon is 8 lb clear on Timeform ratings. Nichols Canyon is something of an under-celebrated horse, as he's won seven races at the highest level, from two miles to two and a half miles, and he can prove too strong for Petit Mouchoir, who was still going within himself when falling three out in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle last time.

Exactoris - Leopardstown 15:05

Exactoris caught the eye when fourth in a novice event at Fairyhouse, doing well to finish as close as he did in a modestly-run affair, and he can score here. He's likely to get a strong pace to aim at this time and, with his rider J. J. Slevin claiming a valuable 7 lb, the lightly-raced gelding is taken to make a winning handicap debut. First To Boogie looks progressive and has to be feared, as does likely improver Brave Out.

Timeform Irish SmartPlays:
(All from Leopardstown)

Win back Skelligs Rock in the 12:20
Win back Nichols Canyon in the 14:30
Win back Exactoris in the 15:05

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