The Grade A Dan Moore Handicap Chase over 2m 1f is the big betting race in Ireland at Fairyhouse on Saturday (14:10).
Us And Them looks each-way value in a typically competitive renewal now down in trip and fitted with blinkers.
Trained by Joseph O’Brien, this second season chaser is only from 11 over fences, but that doesn’t tell the full story.
The seven-year-old son of Stowaway finished runner-up four times in consecutive Grade 1 races last season.
Us And Them scored on his second start over fences at Navan, then returned to that venue and chased home subsequent Grade 1 winner Hardline.
He filled the same spot twice behind Le Richebourg at Leopardstown. After finishing second in the Irish Arkle, Us And Them took the runner-up spot yet again in the English equivalent at the Cheltenham Festival.
Although he now meets the third horse home – Articulum – off 1lb worse terms, that doesn’t look enough to reverse the form.
As Us And Them then went down by just 1 3/4 lengths to the headstrong front-runner Ornua in a Grade 1 at Aintree, he has been a model of consistency over this trip.
The pair meet off level weights because of Dylan Robinson taking 3lb off Ornua with his claim, but the form isn’t strong. Us And Them could well turn the tables.
Drop back in trip a plus
Connections have tried him over further in three starts this season, but he hasn’t got his head in front.
Us And Them was far from disgraced when a 6 3/4 lengths third to Snow Falcon in the Grade 2 Gowran Park Champion Chase on reappearance.
He then lost a shoe when seventh to Happy Diva in the ultra-competitive BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
Although never a factor in the Foxrock Handicap Chase at Navan last time out, the drop down in distance here is a plus.
That run was too bad to be true, so Us And Them can show it to be all wrong on what is set to be a slightly sounder surface at Fairyhouse despite possible rain.
The O’Brien stable is also on a 23 per cent strike rate with its runners in the last 14 days at the time of writing.
Us And Them looks overpriced at 14/1 with Boylesports – who pay five places – especially if the new headgear has the desired effect.
The Dan Moore Handicap Chase is obviously fiercely competitive and there are a host of dangers.
Avenir D’Une Vie and Arico Bleu are prominent in the market, but it’s 5/1 the field with bookmakers on this contest.
Five horses are running from out of the weights, so the booking of conditional or amateur jockeys to try and offset that is key.
Us And Them could easily hit the frame here if blinkers help him to focus.
Wolf Prince can go one better in opener
Proceedings get underway with a 2m four-year-old hurdle (12:25), and Wolf Prince can pay a huge compliment to Ireland’s leading Triumph Hurdle fancy Aspire Tower by going one better than when chasing him home over Christmas.
Trained by Gavin Cromwell, this Pour Moi gelding was an impressive course and distance winner on the second of his three hurdle starts to date.
An import to the stable from Amy Murphy’s yard, Wolf Prince ran five times on the Flat without getting his head in front.
He shaped with plenty of promise on his bow over timber at Punchestown when third to Aspire Tower at Punchestown.
As Wolf Prince came out and bolted up by 14 lengths here in December, connections had every right to pitch him into Grade 2 company at Leopardstown.
Although again no match for Aspire Tower in the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle, he still stuck to the task well and came home a clear second.
Those in-behind Wolf Prince were well strung out and he has simply bumped into an exceptional rival. This juvenile race on Dan Moore Handicap Chase day is a big drop in class.
Cromwell is taking no chances with Wolf Prince, however, by booking 5lb claimer Conor McNamara to offset his penalty for that previous course and distance win.
His is the best form on offer in this six-runner line-up, though, and all five rivals have something to prove.
That is reflected in odds of 6/4 with BetVictor for Wolf Prince to resume winning ways, but he’s a strong fancy.
Chosen Mate can kickstart chase career on Dan Moore Handicap Chase day
In the 2m 1f beginners chase later on the card (14:45), Chosen Mate brings leading form claims into the race.
Trained by Gordon Elliott, this seven-year-old son of Well Chosen ran well in four starts as a novice hurdler last season.
Chosen Mate scored on debut under Rules here last January when giving Ocean Voyage a whopping 23lb and five-length beating.
He was then a gallant three-quarters of a length runner-up to the ill-fated Sinoria in a Listed affair at Punchestown.
As the front two pulled 10 lengths clear of the third and Chosen Mate was given the winner a 7lb sex allowance, the form looks good.
He then held Hannon by a nose despite giving away a whole stone to land a Grade 2 at Naas.
Connections went to the Grade 1 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle with him and Chosen Mate was far from disgraced when beaten seven lengths and fifth to Reserve Tank.
The winner went in again at the highest level at the Punchestown Festival. Each of the first three home at Aintree have made up into useful chasers this season, so again the form is strong.
Chosen Mate then a spin on the Flat and ran in three graded handicaps without troubling the judge.
There was lots to like about his chase debut at Leopardstown over Christmas when an 11-length third to Melon.
The winner has twice finished runner-up in the Champion Hurdle and the runner-up Gallant John Joe had a 5lb claimer aboard.
This race doesn’t have anything of Melon’s calibre in it so, with Davy Russell back in the saddle and on a 33 per cent strike rate in the last 14 days at the time of writing, Chosen Mate looks the one to be on at 5/2 with SportNation.