Kevin Blake has two tips on Sunday at the Dublin Racing Festival
Ballyadam chanced to return to former glories
Day two of the Dublin Racing Festival is upon us and what a treat it promises to be.
The Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle is the feature race and promises to be exciting, informative and emotive. I can't help but find myself being pessimistic about Honeysuckle's prospects of retaining her crown, but I'm sure Henry De Bromhead will have every screw tightened and it should be an enthralling contest.
Dance has all the right moves to go well in opener
My first selection of the day comes in the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle (13:10) and the Gordon Elliott-trained Liberty Dance is the one I like.
The six-year-old was a smart mare in bumpers, winning twice and finishing a close third in the Grade 2 mares' bumper at this meeting last year. Her transition to hurdles has been smooth, with an encouraging hurdling debut in a Grade 3 mares' novice hurdle at Down Royal being followed by wins in a maiden hurdle and Listed mares' novice hurdle at Thurles.
In terms of assessing her mark, the way both of those latter runs have been working out suggest that her initial mark of 129 is very fair indeed.
As well as that, her style of racing suggests that this type of race will very much suit her. Her rivals couldn't go fast enough for her on her latest start at Thurles and this bigger field and assumed stronger pace will very much play to her strengths.
It wouldn't be a surprise if she won this in good style prior to going on to be a contender in the Mares' Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Former star hurdler chanced to go well
The other race that makes particular appeal as a betting medium is the Festina Lente Charity Liffey Handicap Hurdle (16:10). It is a fiercely-competitive contest, but the Henry De Bromhead-trained Ballyadam makes appeal as being well handicapped enough to win it.
The eight-year-old was one of the leading novice hurdlers in Ireland when trained by Gordon Elliott, most notably finishing second to Appreciate It in the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle on this weekend two years ago.
He hasn't manage to win since and has an abortive attempt at novice chasing in that time, but he shaped notably well when fifth in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last March despite not getting a clear run.
This course and distance will suit him well, as will the prevailing ground. This style of race will also suit him well.
The main question is whether he will have all the screws tightened for this contest or whether connections might be eyeing a repeat bid for the County Hurdle, but he is a big enough price to justify taking a chance on.