Star Max can bounce back after Cheltenham
We'll kick-off with a brief mention of the Novice Hurdle at 14:20 as I am looking forward to seeing how Joseph O'Brien's Star Max gets on with a quicker surface.
He ran no sort of race in the Fred Winter last time. The testing conditions could have been against him, but he did go off at 8/1 in that.
I liked the way he travelled with half a mile to go when winning at Gowran Park previously. He was moving sweetly on the inside before being switched to the outer at the home turn. It looked as though he was going to win by a larger margin as he fought to the line. Conditions possibly might have been a bit softer than the official yielding, and with the way he travels, genuine good ground could suit him and there is every chance he can bounce back at a nice price of around 9.08/1.
He had plenty of form on that sort of surface from his Flat days in Germany. He is improving, and you can click here to read his trainer's view on his chances.
One trade to go low, whilst Visioman is the pick
The 4yo and upwards handicap over hurdles at 15:30 is not an easy one to unpick, although nothing really stood out at first glance in terms of a well-treated horse.
With no rain forecast and a dry and bright day for Sunday, it will be interesting to see if the "yielding" in the description will hold up.
Coral Blue is the back-to-lay horse with conditions to suit. Essentially he's a good ground performer who can travel quite well. He didn't perform too badly in the heavy last time out. His effort at Naas was a bit of an unlucky one as he moved well through the race, but was a bit short of room on the inside.
It could be worth throwing in a lay of around 1.501/2 or shorter.
Veneziano Springs is another potential back-to-lay considering he has won over 2m6f chasing, and he is back down to 2m this afternoon. He usually forces the pace and makes the running and has form over course and distance when finishing runner-up off a mark of 104 in December.
The shortlist also had Derby De Thaix on first run for Denis Hogan since leaving Joseph O'Brien. Again, he'll like the conditions, but whether he is well-handicapped I am not sure.
It leaves me with Visioman for Henry De Bromhead. He's a horse who has promised a bit but has never quite delivered. He is 0-9 over hurdles, but he is dropping down in class here following his effort at Leopardstown. He was totally outclassed too when he ran in the November meeting at Cheltenham.
He seemed to act on a sounder surface back in September when going close at Kilbeggan. He finished second then but a bad mistake late on ruined any sort of chance of winning. The drop down in grade might do the trick and he is Win and Place bet potential at around 14.013/1.
De Bromhead jumper to dominate from the front in feature
The feature race of the day is the 3m Grade 3 over fences; a novice event that was won by Willie Mullins' Kemboy last term. The trainer has two representatives for the 2019 renewal - and he has won four out of the last five. His pair Robin De Foret and Burrows Saint have been racing over shorter, so they need to prove their stamina.
My bet in the race is another De Bromhead runner in Nick Lost. He created a good impression last summer when winning three on the spin on good ground and has no stamina issues. The fact he was racing last June and July tells you that today's conditions (or any surface that will be drying) will suit him perfectly too.
He looked a pretty exciting novice in two of the wins, and he certainly caught the eye with the way he winged some of his fences in attack mode on his chase debut. He also won at Limerick over 3m last July on good ground. His strong point again was the brilliant round of jumping from the front.
Nick Lost was outclassed when last seen in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown behind Delta Work back in December, and at that level his jumping was slightly pressured as he made a couple of mistakes.
Back at a track he clearly likes, he looks an out-and-out stayer who should go from the front here to build a rhythm with his jumping and try to expose a couple that might not see out the trip as strongly and he looked overpriced last night on the Sportsbook at 11/1.
Elliott pair on recovery missions, but watch out for returning chaser
Two of the top three in the betting for the Handicap Chase at 16:40 are trained by Gordon Elliott, and both Tycoon Prince and Dakota Moirette have proved disappointing over fences. The latter would have a big chance on his Grade B 0-150 second at Leopardstown in February - and that was on good ground. However, he ran in the first-time cheekpieces and perhaps the novelty of the headgear has worn off?
Click here to read Elliott's column on his Sunday runners.
The outsider of the lot on the early prices was Lucky Pat - and he isn't a total lost cause. The absence of 569 days is a big worry, obviously, but he has gone well fresh in the past - including a second after a 475 day absence.
He stays a bit further than today's trip and has plenty of form on good ground and good to yielding. He also ticks the well-handicapped box as he ran very well in a Grade B at Killarney two years' ago from a mark of 136. Today he gets in from a 10lb lower mark.
It's always a risk with the lay-off, and he clearly could need it. But he is certainly one to follow for the day.
*Click here to read Gordon Elliott's views and his best chance on Sunday