Joseph O'Brien has eight runners over the weekend including some good chances at Punchestown on Sunday, and you can read the Betfair Ambassador's exclusive thoughts here...
"High Sparrow is a rock solid in this type of contest. While the handicapper probably has a good enough hold on him, he'll relish the test the race presents and will hopefully run another solid race."
Saturday - Naas
Step down in class should see him involved
Druid's Altar made a winning debut over hurdles at Punchestown in November, but has struggled a bit in stronger company since then. He benefited from a drop in class to finish a moderate second at Fairyhouse last time and this race is probably another step down the class ladder for him. Conditions will suit and he will hopefully be there at the finish.
Sunday - Punchestown
Both have the ability to be competitive
Fire Attack made a really promising hurdling debut when second in a Grade 3 novice at Navan in November, but hasn't built on that in two starts since. He isn't the easiest of rides as he can get quite strong in his races, but he has the ability to be competitive in this sort of company if we can convince him to race more efficiently.
Uhtred is a promising horse that has won both his starts in bumpers and made a promising hurdling debut in between those two wins last season. We had a small setback with him earlier this season which held us up, but he is a good shape now and ready to run. This is a tough enough ask for his seasonal reappearance, but we'll be hoping that he can show plenty of promise.
Delighted with D'Allier while Sempo has been unlucky so far
We were delighted to see Duc D'Allier make a winning chasing debut on his first start for us at Fairyhouse last month. He had been off the track for a very long time, so it was great to see him perform so well. I'd be hopeful that his jumping will sharpen up with that experience under his belt and all being well he should be competitive in this contest.
Sempo has had no luck over fences so far, twice getting no further than the first fence, though the most recent occasion wasn't his fault as he was badly hampered by a faller in front of him. He was a smart novice hurdler last season and the ability is still there, he just needs to put it all together over fences.
Three solid chances in Grand National trial
Smoking Gun is a horse we like and has it in him to win a race like this. He ran well for a long way in the Thyetses at Gowran Park last time, but the very testing ground probably caught him out in the end. This longer trip should be ok for him and hopefully he'll run a good race.
Thermistocles is unexposed over fences and made a promising return over hurdles last time having got interfered with in the straight. He gives the impression that this longer trip will be ok for him and he is an interesting contender.
High Sparrow is a rock solid in this type of contest. While the handicapper probably has a good enough hold on him, he'll relish the test the race presents and will hopefully run another solid race.
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