The feature race on day one of Limerick’s Christmas Festival is the extended 2m 3f Grade 1 Matchbook Betting Exchange Novice Chase (14:40).
Although seven are set to line-up, it essentially boils down to a match between vaunted pair Faugheen and Samcro.
Both highly-regarded, popular horses have some questions to answer about their jumping.
Faugheen was far from fluent when making a belated but winning chase debut aged 11.
Samcro took a tumble when his own action over fences came under pressure last time out.
If proving no worse for that fall, then Gordon Elliott’s Gigginstown House Stud owned seven-year-old is open to greater progress and improvement than veteran Faugheen.
Wilie Mullins’ beloved charge is a previous Limerick Christmas Festival winner, so has valuable course experience.
The forecast heavy ground means the trip will take some getting and that plays to the strengths of both.
This pair are both past Irish point to point winners, so a test of stamina is no problem.
Samcro was very impressive when winning a Down Royal beginners chase unextended on reappearance, but what he beat is questionable.
The same can be said of Faugheen’s victorious bow at Punchestown where he made quite a few errors and still managed to win easily.
A Grade 1 usually demands more, but the opposition hasn’t achieved anything like the same level of hurdles form as him and Samcro. Betting a reverse forecast looks the obvious punt here.
Faugheen is 5/2 with William Hill for the Matchbook Betting Exchange Novice Chase, but must shape better over fences with sterner tests coming in the future.
Samcro, meanwhile, is 4/6 favourite with them and bookmakers side with him because there are less miles on the clock. Connections have minded him for chasing, so a bold bid is assured.
Tintangle best of Matchbook Betting Exchange Novice Chase remainder
It’s hard to fancy anything else but, should one or other of the market principals fail to fire, Tintangle gets weight all-round as a mare.
Very much the Gigginstown and Elliott second string, she represents the owners and trainer who have won this in each of the last two years.
This six-year-old daughter of Yeats won her first two starts over fences with her best performance in this sphere to date coming in second of those when making over an extended 2m 2f at Clonmel.
Tintangle didn’t handle the drop back in trip in a Grade 3 at Cork last time out.
The extra furlong of the Matchbook Betting Exchange Novice Chase from Clonmel looks more likely to suit, then. Her back hurdles form isn’t too shabby either.
Tintangle was far from disgraced when a fine fourth to subsequent Hatton’s Grace heroine Honeysuckle over 2m 4f in a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse on Easter Sunday and beaten less than nine lengths.
She was also a rallying 1 3/4 lengths third in the Grade 2 Dawn Run at the Cheltenham Festival on her previous outing.
Although unable to quicken with the winner Eglantine De Seuil, Tintangle stayed on to hit the frame and belie a 40/1 starting price.
That race has thrown up plenty of subsequent victors besides her. A repeat of her Cheltenham and Fairyhouse efforts give Tintangle an each-way squeak at 28/1 with Unibet in this Boxing Day feature.