Trials Day at Gowran Park has the 2m 4f Grade 2 Red Mills Chase as its feature race on Saturday (14:54).
As trainer Henry De Bromhead has won two of the last four renewals, Chris’s Dream appeals most on the very soft surface.
The trip is going to take some getting if the meeting survives Storm Dennis. In Chris’s Dream, connections have an eight-year-old with a 50 per cent strike rate from six starts over fences.
This Irish point winner went on to bolt up in a Grade 3 novice hurdle on bottomless ground at Clonmel.
Chris’s Dream routed his rivals by 64 lengths and absolutely relished the testing conditions.
Whatever the son of Mahler achieved over hurdles was a bonus, as he looked the type to come into his own when sent chasing.
That view was confirmed when Chris’s Dream got the better of Gun Digger on his bow over fences at Navan.
Although then runner-up to Ballyward in a Grade 3 at Naas, he won the Ten Up Novice Chase back at Navan next time out 12 months ago.
He was all out, but held Champagne Classic – twice a winner and runner-up at the highest level since – by half-a-length.
Terrific Troytown effort highlights Red Mills Chase claims
Chris’s Dream didn’t sparkle at either Aintree’s Grand National meeting or the Punchestown Festival, yet put in a superb display on reappearance.
Dropping into handicap company for the Troytown at Navan, he scored by 9 1/2 lengths in ready fashion from Fitzhenry.
As the runner-up was getting 12lb from Chris’s Dream and has since run well when a desperately unlucky second in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, the form looks solid.
Chris’s Dream was entered in the Irish Gold Cup during the Dublin Racing Festival on the back of that Troytown effort.
De Bromhead withdrew him on the drying ground though, so he comes here instead.
The yard’s Red Mills Chase winner last year, Monalee, was rated just 1lb superior to Chris’s Dream is now going into the race.
A mark of 160 means he has just 4lb to find on ratings topper Real Steel.
While that Willie Mullins trained rival is respected with two wins in the grade this season, he doesn’t have as much scope for further improvement as Chris’s Dream.
With jockey Rachael Blackmore on a 20 per cent strike rate in the saddle in the last fortnight at the time of writing and one from two on him, Chris’s Dream gets our vote at 11/4 with Bethard to give De Bromhead more Red Mills Chase success.
Cilaos Emery can bounce back in Red Mills Trial Hurdle
The other key race on the card is the 2m Grade 3 Red Mills Trial Hurdle (13:44).
Last year’s winner Darasso bids for a repeat success, but Cilaos Emery appeals more off favourable terms.
Trained by Mullins, this eight-year-old won all three of his chase starts in 2019.
Cilaos Emery was progressive over fences, accounting for Impact Factor by four length on his bow in that sphere here over the trip of this last January.
He then missed the rest of the campaign, but then beat previous Grade 1 winner Ornua by 9 1/2 lengths in the Poplar Square Chase at Naas on reappearance.
Cilaos Emery took the step up into Grade 2 company in his stride when lowering the colours of Ballyoisin in the Hilly Way at Cork.
That saw him sent off at just 4/1 for the Dublin Chase around Leopardstown last time out, but he got no further than the first fence.
A run in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle here is a confidence booster for the Califet gelding.
He is rated 158 over the smaller obstacles and gets in with no penalties, so comes out 12lb clear of Darasso on adjusted figures.
Provided he is no worse for his tumble at the Dublin Racing Festival, this looks a good opening for Cilaos Emery to get back to winning ways.
He landed a Punchestown Festival Grade 1 as a novice hurdler, so has top back form in this sphere.
Cilaos Emery is versatile as regards ground, so there’s nothing not to like about him at 8/13 with 888Sport for the Red Mills Trial Hurdle.
Darasso and Mengli Khan are set to duke it out for second place behind him.
Spyglass Hill can break maiden tag over fences
De Bromhead and Blackmore have claims of a quick-fire double on the Red Mills Chase card thanks to Spyglass Hill in the 2m 4f beginners chase (15:29).
This seven-year-old won a Limerick handicap hurdle on heavy ground and reappearance in October, before being sent over fences.
Spyglass Hill was a respectable sixth at Fairyhouse on his bow over this sphere. He then chased home Bapaume at Naas and was only beaten by 5 1/2 lengths.
The winner is rated two stone (28lb) superior over hurdles, so this was a fine effort. Caravation, who was third, came out and won eased down next time up to advertise the form.
Spyglass Hill then came down two out in a Grade 3 at Naas when still holding every chance. This is easier.
Provided the Morozov gelding is no worse for falling, then he appeals to go in at the fourth time of asking on his run behind Bapaume. Spyglass Hill is 9/4 with BetVictor to do just that.
There are dangers with Mullins saddling three in the 15-runner field. Coquin Mans was the best of those over hurdles, landing a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse.
Voix Des Tiep has twice placed over fences, however, when third to Tornado Flyer and runner-up to another stable companion Annamix. He is 4/1 with Boylesports to get his head in front here.