With the Six Nations on Sunday, one of the great meetings of the National Hunt season has been brought forward 24 hours,
The Hennessy is one of four Grade Ones on a mouth watering card, which includes the clash of the Irish chasing titans Sir Des Champs and Peter Casey’s much loved Flemenstar.
The action gets under way with the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at 1:15 where Willie Mullins has decided place his main Triumph Hurdle fancies in Blood Cotil and Diakali against each other.
English radar Ruacana and Dessie Hughes’s Our Conor will also take their chances in the Grade One contest which is sure to give some pointers toward the juvenile championship race next month. It is interesting to note that Paul Townsend has ridden both of Mullins’ charges and he gets the leg up on Diakali instead of his stable mate.
He has been very impressive on both his starts for Mullins’ and is sure to put a bold show again. Blood Cotil has done nothing wrong either, winning both his starts, he won against decent opposition here over Christmas in Grade 2 company.
The handicapper has given both horses the same mark, but Blood Cotil could just be the one to side with. Willie Mullins’ stated after his Grade Two victory here that this would be his next target. If settling again like the last day he could get the better of his stable companion, although it is very hard to split the two.
Last year’s Champion bumper winner Champagne Fever 13/8 bids for his first Grade One over obstacles in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at 2:15. Mullins’ charge folded quiet easily on his most recent outing but it was made known since that something was amiss with six year old.
He got within a length of Jezki in the Royal Bond and a repeat of that will surely see him take this contest and book his Cheltenham ticket. Minsk 9/1 and Waheeb 3/1 will challenge Mullins’ charge but he must be fancied to prevail.
The classy Boston Bob 10/11 made hard work of his debut over fences at Navan in December. He has not been seen since and is sure to be in peak condition. He met Texas Jack 5/1 on a few occasions over hurdles and prevailed each time in these conditions.
Lyreen Legend 4/1 could be the one to side with. Dessie Hughes’s charge seems to like these testing conditions and has been impressive over the larger obstacles to date. If Boston Bob once again does not show up over the larger obstacles the race should fall in to the hands of Hughes’s charge with Texas Jack being the main danger.
There was very little between Flemenstar 5/4 and Sir Des Champs when the pair finished a respective third and fourth in a thrilling finish to the Grade 1 Lexus Chase here in December.
The two are sure to draw a crowd for the Hennessey at 3:20 as they aim to book their Cheltenham tickets. Flemenstar travelled very well last time until tiring close home on his first try at 3m.
The distance could be his fault but connections are well entitled to have a tilt at this contest with their superstar. Sir Des Champs 5/4 was no match for the selection over a shorter distance two starts ago but it is clear he is stayer and looks more of a Gold Cup prospect than Casey’s charge.
Sir Des Champs was let down by his jumping in the Lexus. That is sure to be corrected and he seems to be the one to side with. Either way we are in for a thrilling encounter and very possibly an exceptional performance from Mullins’ superstar.
Inis Mean 9/2 was well fancied for the Boylesports.com hurdle on his most recent start. He looked well held that day but he might have needed the run as he was returning from a four month absence. He could be worth taking a chance on in the paddypower.com iPhone Fast Bet Handicap Hurdle at 3:50. His main danger could be in the form of Tennis Cap and each way value lies in Discoteca 8/1.
Mossey Joe 8/1 takes his chances in the Hunters Chase sphere in the Raymond Smith Memorial Hunters Steeplechase at 4:20. He looked very classy early in his career and could very well cause an upset to Salisfy who is on route to Cheltenham.