Moon Over Germany relishes a soft surface, so – now encountering his optimum conditions – looks the one to be on in the Grade 2 Craddockstown Novice Chase at Punchestown on Saturday (13:25).
Trained by Henry De Bromhead, who has saddled four winners of this 2m contest in the last decade, this eight-year-old spent much of last season racing on the wrong ground.
The son of Germany also has some interesting back hurdles form when in the care of Edward Harty.
This includes a fine third to Sutton Place in a similar grade affair at Fairyhouse’s Easter Festival back in 2016. That race has thrown up plenty of chase winners.
Jett, the fourth horse home, has come out and won Grade 2 and Grade 3 contests this year to advertise the form.
General Principle, who came sixth, went on to Irish Grand National glory in 2018.
Moon Over Germany was far from disgraced on his first four starts in this sphere on going that was too quick for him.
Craddockstown Novice Chase ground ideal
He went back into handicap company for a Grade 3 race named in honour of Red Rum at Aintree’s Grand National Festival and bolted up.
Despite a tendency to jump right, which is no problem at Punchestown, Moon Over Germany made most of the running.
He drew clear of the field in-between the final two fences for a 10-length victory over Lady Buttons.
The runner-up is a very smart dual purpose mare who has since made a winning return to action at Listed level over hurdles at Wetherby.
Although the assessor put Moon Over Germany up 11lb for that Aintree romp, he wasn’t disgraced at the Punchestown Festival.
As the ground was quicker than he liked there, it was to his credit that he plugged on to be fourth in another handicap.
Moon Over Germany then bested seasoned chaser Ordinary World on reappearance at Ballinrobe back in soft conditions.
His weakening third in a Grade 3 at Tipperary over 2m 4f suggests he didn’t get the trip. Now back at the minimum distance and with ideal ground, however, Moon Over Germany is a strong fancy at 5/2 with Betway under in-form jockey Mark Walsh.
Saldier value against Klassical Dream in Morgiana Hurdle
Closutton handler Willie Mullins has won the last eight renewals of the feature extended 2m Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle (2:00) and is triple-handed in his bid to enhance that record.
Last year’s winner Sharjah encounters very different going this time, so it looks to be between his other runners Klassical Dream and Saldier.
Although the former is a three-time Grade 1 winner from last season, he’s a short price at 4/7 with Unibet as a result.
The value play at the odds on offer is Saldier who was a progressive juvenile and acts in these testing conditions.
This five-year-old Soldier Hollow gelding is two from three going right-handed for Mullins since joining the yard from France.
Saldier scored by 10 easy lengths in a Gowran Park maiden on stable debut in February last year.
Although then fifth in the Triumph Hurdle and third in a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse, he built on those efforts with a three-length success in the Champion Four Year Old race over course and distance here.
Saldier has been off since taking a tumble at the last when going well on reappearance last season.
That was in the Grade 3 Fishery Lane Hurdle at Naas, which subsequent and ill-fated Champion Hurdle hero Espoir D’Allen won. Connections have given Saldier a full year to get over his fall.
He is unexposed in open company and handler Mullins has just brought another Rich and Susannah Ricci owned horse in Douvan back to the racetrack with victory after an even longer absence.
Klassical Dream who won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Punchestown Festival equivalent, so commands respect and opposed on price alone.
Saldier is better betting value at 4/1 with Bethard for the Morgiana.
Blue Sari and Faugheen make hurdles and chase bows
Elsewhere on the Craddockstown Novice Chase and Morgiana Hurdle card, Mullins has two eye-catching debutants over hurdles and fences respectively.
Blue Sari is the clear form pick in the 22-runner maiden hurdle for four-year-olds over 2m 4f (14:35).
Owned by legendary gambler JP McManus, this son of Saddex bolted up by 11 lengths on racecourse debut at Gowran Park.
Blue Sari then followed-up with a superb Cheltenham Festival effort when chasing home Envoi Allen in the Grade 1 Champion Bumper.
He came with a strong challenge in the final furlong up the famous Cheltenham hill and was only held close home.
As Blue Sari went down fighting by three-quarters of a length, he went into many people’s notebooks as a hot novice hurdle prospect.
That journey begins here up in trip. The Champion Bumper form is obviously strong as the winner, third and fourth home have all made winning transitions to hurdles.
Thyme Hill landed the Grade 2 Persian War at Chepstow on his bow over timber, while Abacadabras took a Navan Grade 3 easing down last weekend.
Given connections, Blue Sari is a hot 30/100 fancy with William Hill to do likewise.
The mighty Faugheen, meanwhile, makes a belated chasing debut earlier on the card (12:50).
Although the eldest in the line-up by some way for this 2m 4f contest, the 11-year-old has been a magnificent servant to Mullins and Ricci.
Nothing else in this beginners chase has hurdles form that comes even close to Faugheen. Rated 174 at his peak, he won an Irish point back in 2012 and nine Grade 1s since.
If taking to fences, Faugheen will outclass this opposition despite his advancing years. He can be backed at 5/4 with SportNation to do just that.