Defi Du Seuil looks decent value at 5/2 with Coral to take the drop back to 2m in his stride and land the spoils in the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase on day three of the Punchestown Festival this Thursday (18:40).
The Philip Hobbs trained six-year-old was a top class juvenile hurdler in 2017 when unbeaten in seven starts. Those successes included victory in the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.
Since failing to shine on debut over fences at Cheltenham back in in November, the JP McManus owned son of Voix Du Nord has really got his act together over the larger obstacles and progressed at a rate of knots.
After bearing subsequent RSA winner Topofthegame by 3 1/2 lengths over 2m 3f at Exeter, he lost little in defeat when getting beat just over a length by Lostintranslation in the Grade 2 Dipper at Cheltenham when attempting to give the winner 3lb.
Defi Du Seuil the gained his revenge on that rival when staying on strongly to beat him by three-quarters of a length in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown.
He then enjoyed his finest hour over fences when landing the Grade 1 JLT over 2m 4f at the Cheltenham Festival by a comfortable 2 1/4 lengths. The form of those races make him a major player in this.
As Defi Du Seuil has plenty of winning form over the trip as a hurdler and is versatile as regards ground, everything looks in place for a huge run.
Duc Des Genievres spearheads Mullins trio
Willie Mullins is the most successful trainer in the history of the race having won it six times, including the last four renewals. He saddles three this time around and his main hope, according to the betting, is Duc Des Genievres.
This six-year-old is the highest rated in the line-up off 163 – 1lb higher than Defi Du Seuil – as a result of an impressive success over Us And Them in the Grade 1 Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival.
After being held-up in mid-division, the son of Buck’s Boum made good headway to take up the running three from home. He then shot clear and stayed on strongly to score easily by 13 lengths.
He is 2/1 favourite with Betfred as a result, but those odds look short enough, given that race somewhat fell apart as a result of some of the key players taking tumbles.
If there is to be a shock, another Mullins mount Voix Du Reve could be the one to provide it on the back of a career-best performance last time out when readily landing a Grade 1 at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival.
At odds of 14/1 with Betfair, he looks the each-way option in a competitive renewal of the Ryanair Novice Chase.
Drop The Anchor appeals on handicap debut
In the 2m JLT handicap hurdle that gets proceedings underway (15:40), Drop The Anchor looks weighted to go well and makes plenty of each-way appeal at 8/1 with BetVictor.
This Pat Fahy trained five-year-old started life off in a Listed bumper at Limerick when a keeping on 13 1/2 lengths fifth of six to Balliniska Band.
He then showed the benefit of that experience when landing a 17-runner bumper at Listowel in good style – taking up the running at the furlong marker, before asserting to readily beat Kerkenny Gold by 3 lengths.
That taking success saw him snapped up by leading Irish owner JP McManus and there was lots to like about his first outing over hurdles here in December when a 24-length sixth of 20 to Embrun Mitja.
After racing in mid-division, he closed to be a close fifth two from home before weakening and then being allowed to come home in his own time. Jockey Mark Walsh gave him a tender introduction and Drop The Anchor has caught the eye in two subsequent outings.
In the first of those at Naas, he kept on to be nearest at the finish when a 22 lengths fourth of 24 to Emily Moon. The winner is a smart sort who was then given an official rating of 138 and Pont Aven, who came fifth, has won since to be rated 123.
It makes Drop The Anchor a fascinating contender in this off a opening mark of 116, especially as he looks to have been brought along firmly with handicaps in mind and landing a big pot like this.
Feeling The Love and Silver Frost also hold each-way claims
There are plenty of dangers in a wide-open contest in which 26 are set to go to post and Feeling The Love, who also carries the famous gold and green hoops of McManus, looks another with leading each-way claims.
This Jessica Harrington trained six-year-old mare rattled up a hat-trick last summer, and was also far from disgraced on her final start of the campaign when third to Pearl Of The West – a winner of a big handicap here earlier in the week – at Bellewstown.
Feel The Love now returns to action following an absence of 245 days but, given powerful connections, fitness is unlikely to be an issue and a mark of 122 looks workable. She can be backed at 16/1 with BetVictor.
Trainer Gordon Elliott saddled Park Paddocks to land the spoils 12 months ago, so that fact that Silver Star is his sole representative this time around looks significant and makes him another to consider from an each-way punting perspective.
Judged on his 5 1/4 lengths third to Conron on handicap debut over course and distance back in October, this son of Silver Frost looks potentially well-treated off a mark of 122. He is a 28/1 shot with Paddy Power.
Discordantly another each-way wager
Discordantly has a progressive profile and looks potentially ahead of his mark; so, at 12/1 with William Hill, looks decent each-way value in the 3m Conway Piling Handicap Hurdle (18:05).
Also trained by Harrington, this five-year-old ran really well three starts back over 2m 4f at this venue when a 2 1/4 lengths second of 20 to Take Revenge. The third home Lethal Steps has come out and won since, so that gives the form a solid look.
Discordantly then ran very well to finish eighth of 24 to Early Doots in the ultra-competitive Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival off a mark of 138.
He then opened his account under Rules at Fairyhouse last month when gamely beating La Tektor, who has won since, in a 24-runner maiden. As Discordantly now reverts back to handicap company off 131, it that makes him a big player from a handicapping perspective.
The step up to 3m also promises to suit. Another plus is that Discordantly has the services of the in-form Robbie Power in the saddle.
Trainer Dan Skelton loves to target races like this, so his Three Musketeers looks a big player despite having to shoulder to weight and another well worth considering each-way at 12/1 with 888Sport.
This nine-year-old former Elliott inmate scored in good style last time out at Aintree’s Grand National Festival when landing a 21-runner Grade 3 handicap contest.
Three Musketeers remains well-treated off a revised rating of 138 on the pick of his form, having been rated as high as 147 over hurdles in the past.
Crack Irish jockey Jack Kennedy, who partnered him for the first time that day, is once again in the saddle and a bold bid to follow-up looks assured.