Joseph O'Brien has a few horses stepping up in trip at Leopardstown on Monday, while at Limerick he's looking for lots of improvement from his quartet...
"Stepping him up in distance has long been in our thoughts with him and he looks ready for it now."
- Joseph O'Brien on Fakir D'Oudairies
Hoping for improvement with a few stepping up in trip
Anything Will Do has done well since we switched him to fences this season, winning once and running well in defeat a couple of times. He proved his stamina for staying trips over fences and he hasn't raced beyond two-and-a-half miles over hurdles, so we thought we'd give him a chance over this sort of trip over hurdles to see can he find some improvement.
Star Max made a solid return to hurdles last time, but probably doesn't have many secrets from the handicapper, so we'll try him at this longer trip in the hope that it will bring about some improvement in him.
Mortal is rated 26lb lower over hurdles than fences, but we ran him in this race last year and he didn't run very well, so that differential probably isn't one to take literally. The handicapper has a very strong hold of him over fences, so we'll give him another try over hurdles here.
Disappointing on Saturday
Watch Guard was declared to run in his first handicap hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday and how he runs there will dictate whether he lines up here again.
Very strong race but we're looking forward to it
This looks a really competitive renewal of this race, but we are looking forward to stepping Fakir D'Oudairies up in trip in it. Stepping him up in distance has long been in our thoughts with him and he looks ready for it now. This is obviously very strong company, so we'll have a much better idea of how he measures up after this.
Hoping he shows a lot more this time
Sempo got no further than the first fence on his chasing debut at Naas, which was disappointing as his schooling had been good. This less testing surface will be a help to him and hopefully he can show a lot more this time.
Should run well
San Salvador has run well in both his starts. He ended up in front a long way out at Fairyhouse last time and probably paid the price for that in the straight. He should improve from that run and will hopefully run well.
Improvement needed for all of my four Limerick runners
Wanchu Bach hasn't shown much in either of his starts over hurdles and would need to improve a lot to make any sort of impact in this.
New Ross has shown some promise in both his starts over hurdles, but will need to improve to go close in this company.
Hardback was a bit disappointing on his return to action in a handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse last time, but hopefully the switch back to chasing will be a help to him. Big improvement will be needed to see him get competitive.
Triplicate has been disappointing over fences so far and his rating reflects that. He is suited by the conditions of this race and it will represent a less competitive opportunity for him, but he still needs to improve a fair bit to be competitive.