Betfair Ambassador Joseph O'Brien's busy festive racing calendar continues at Leopardstown and Limerick on Sunday so get his views on his runners' chances...
"Fire Attack is a horse I’ve always liked a lot and we were delighted to see him run so well on his hurdling debut in a Grade 3 novice at Navan last month."
Bags of potential but needs to improve jumping
Flying Scotsman has been a bit underwhelming over hurdles thus far given the expectations attached to him after he did so well on the Flat last summer. His jumping has been the main issue and he needs to sharpen up in that regard if he is to fulfil his potential over hurdles.
Another big test
It was great to finally get Le Richebourg back to the track at Punchestown earlier this month. While he was pulled up in the end, Mark Walsh was happy with him and felt he would come on from the run. This is obviously another big test for him, but we are happy to let him take his chance and are hoping to see improvement from him.
Fire Attack has a fair chance
Fire Attack is a horse I've always liked a lot and we were delighted to see him run so well on his hurdling debut in a Grade 3 novice at Navan last month. The run was a pleasant surprise in many ways, particularly given he ended up pulling his way to the front in the back-straight. We had just hoped he would have a good first experience over hurdles and run a nice race, so for him to nearly win it having done plenty wrong was a big effort. He is likely to improve from that and with the promise of a stronger gallop in this contest, he looks to have a fair chance.
Keskonrisk joined us after winning a bumper for Timmy Hyde last January and he made a winning start for us in a maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse last time. He had to overcome some trouble in running to win and probably did quite well on the day to get up in the final strides. This represents a much tougher assignment for him and significant improvement will be needed, but we'll let him take his chance and hope to see him take a good step in the right direction.
Pair should improve for the run
The Moyglass Flyer hasn't been the easiest horse to keep right, but there is plenty of ability in there and he has shown that in winning two of his three starts over hurdles. He looked a good prospect when winning this race last year off an 8lb lower mark and hopefully he can run well in it again, but he should come on from the run.
Winner Takes Itall looked to be on his way to winning a handicap hurdle at Punchestown back in September, but a bad mistake at the final flight stopped him in his tracks and he ended up finishing second. He has since produced a career-best effort back on the Flat to win at Dundalk, so the hopes will be that he can translate some of that improvement back over hurdles.
Home By The Lee should enjoy longer trip
Home By The Lee has made a really positive start over fences, winning two of his three starts including a Grade 3 novice at Cork. He was no match for Envoi Allen in the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse last time, but I thought he shaped quite well. His handicap mark looks fair, so we decided to let him take his chance in this contest. The longer trip should suit him and if he isn't undone by his relative inexperience against these hardened handicappers, he'll hopefully run a good race.
Speak Easy remains a maiden over fences after five starts over them and has to be considered a shade disappointing, particularly in his two runs this season. The switch to handicap company and return to a longer trip might help, but he'll need to improve significantly to make an impact.
Choungaya made a solid return to action a maiden chase at Thurles last time and is likely to have finished a fair bit closer but for being badly hampered at the second-last fence. He came up well short in a couple of valuable handicap chases last season, but hopefully can show more in this.
Good chance if she jumps well
Lunar Display looked to be running a big race when falling at the final flight in a maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse last month. We decided to give her a run in a bumper after that and she ran well to finish third in a Listed mares' contest at Navan. That effort at Fairyhouse entitles her a good chance if her jumping holds up.
Big improvement needed to compete here
Land Jet hasn't shown a whole lot in a bumper and three maiden hurdles thus far, but the switch to handicap company should at least be a more comfortable level for him. Even considering that, he'll need to improve a lot to get competitive.