Headlining Friday’s festive card at Limerick is the extended 2m 7f Grade 2 Dorans Pride Novice Hurdle (14:00), and Well Set Up appeals for her hat-trick.
Trained by Mark Fahey, this six-year-old-mare is a progressive sort who has won three of her six hurdles starts since coming fifth to Envoi Allen in a Listed bumper at Navan.
The daughter of Gold Well clearly needs further than the minimum trip over the obstacles.
Well Set Up ran a huge race in defeat when impeded close home and just failing by a nose to overhaul Robin De Carlow in a 2m 6f Grade 3 event at this venue in March.
As the winner has since landed three chases and third mare home, Agusta Gold, has also gone in over the bigger obstacles, the form has a good look to it.
Well Set Up duly showed the benefit of that experience when scoring herself on reappearance at Roscommon.
That came over an inadequate trip, however, and she has since relished tests of stamina on softer surfaces.
Although beaten in a Listed affair here by Listen Dear, Well Set Up has since won her last two outings.
In the first of those, she kept on well to win by a couple of lengths at Cork and then returned to that venue for Grade 3 victory over re-opposing pair Alpine Cobra and Vis Ta Loi.
As Well Set Up was going away at the finish and meets those rivals off the same terms, she should confirm the form. She also gets 7lb from top-weight Fury Road and that could prove the difference.
For that reason, Well Set Up looks well worth a wager to complete her hat-trick here at 6/1 with Bethard for the Dorans Pride Novice Hurdle.
Fury Road feared most in spite of top-weight
Since last winning this race in 2008, powerful owners Gigginstown House Stud have had five different horses finish runner-up.
The aforementioned Fury Road rates the main danger for them and Gordon Elliott despite giving 3lb and upwards all-round.
This five-year-old son of Stowaway is two from two over hurdles. He is also an Irish point winner and smart bumper performer held in high regard by connections.
Fury Road landed his second point-to-point at Dromahane by five lengths and then his second National Hunt Flat race outing at Fairyhouse in February.
He was a comfortable seven-length victor in that and ran a fine length third at the Punchestown Festival.
The way he performed in that sphere suggested he could make up into a fine staying novice hurdler.
That view was confirmed when Fury Road bolted up on his bow in this sphere to win in facile fashion easing down over 2m 6f at Down Royal.
He was clearly value for tons more than the 18 lengths winning margin. Fury Road then followed-up with another unextended display in the Grade 3 Monksfield Novice Hurdle at Navan when back in trip.
However, he was sent off 1/25 for that contest and allowed to completely dictate affairs. Fury Road is likely to find the Dorans Pride Novice Hurdle a much harder contest.
This demands more and, although Davy Russell is again in the plate, short odds of 6/5 with Betway aren’t value.
Fury Road is therefore taken on, but commands tons of respect for a yard that is still looking for a first-ever winner of this race.
Alpine Cobra appeals each-way in Dorans Pride Novice Hurdle
Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins has landed this six times in the past.
That means anything from his County Carlow stables are well worth a second look, but Alpine Cobra represents Charles Byrnes.
He has won the Dorans Pride Novice Hurdle three times before and, on that run behind Well Set Up, his entry makes the most each-way appeal.
Alpine Cobra is a course bumper winner over 2m 3f despite losing a shoe. This son of Scorpion has also put his best foot forward in stamina tests.
After finishing a fine third to the well-regarded Andy Dufresne at Navan, he broke his maiden tag over hurdles at Punchestown at a 2m 6f trip.
Alpine Cobra was pitched into Grade 3 company off the back of that. He rallied superbly to take the runner-up spot behind Well Set Up at Cork and best the re-opposing Vis Ta Loi by a nose.
That means there is little to choose between the pair. However, it’s not reflected in the odds on offer.
Vis Ta Loi is one of four engaged for Mullins and didn’t have any extra at Cork when challenged by Alpine Cobra. It would be no surprise to see him confirm the form with his old rival.
Although Alpine Cobra still has work to do to reverse the placings with Well Set Up, he looks a great each-way bet at 11/8 with 888Sport to make the frame in the Dorans Pride Novice Hurdle.
The best of Mullins’ quartet, meanwhile, looks to be Foveros, who accounted for stable companion Quartz Du Rheu in a rated novice hurdle at Galway before finding the drop back to 2m too sharp when seventh in the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.