In the ultra-competitive Adare Manor Opportunity Series Final Handicap Hurdle that gets proceedings underway on day two of the 2019 Punchestown Festival on Wednesday (15:40), the progressive Musical Slave looks decent value at 11/2 with William Hill to land the spoils in the 2m 5f contest.
This Philip Hobbs trained six-year-old ran very well on debut in a bumper at this meeting in 2017 when a keeping on four-length sixth of 23 to Roaring Bull.
He went on to shape with plenty of promise in his first three starts over hurdles, when tenderly handled and looking to be being brought along steadily with handicaps in mind.
That proved to be the case as Musical Slave was backed off the boards on debut in that sphere when sent off the 6/4 favourite and trouncing Et Moi Alors by eight lengths at Market Rasen.
After travelling well throughout and taking up the running two from home, he only had to be driven clear to win with tons in hand.
The son of Getaway made a total mockery off his opening mark of 110, and has since followed-up when turned out quickly under a 7lb penalty at Ludlow and keeping on strongly to readily account for Landsman by 1 1/2 lengths.
Musical Slave was 6lb well-in that day as the British handicapper was due to put him up to a mark of 123 in future assignments. So, given that he is able to run in this off 121, it makes him look well-treated in his hat-trick bid.
The step up in trip also promises to suit and in-form Hobbs has done well with his rare runners at this meeting – saddling an eyecatching 12 winners since the turn of the century.
Duc De Beauchene appeals each-way
There are plenty of dangers in wide-open contest in which a huge field of 28 are set to go to post. Duc De Beauchene, who also carries the famous green and gold hooped colours of JP McManus, appeals more than most given that he has proven winning form over the trip.
The David Pipe trained six-year-old got off the mark at Plumpton two starts back, when only having to be kept up to his work to cosily beat Mr Jack by a length on handicap debut off a mark of 113.
He then ran well off his current rating when chasing home Gleno in a more competitive affair at Sandown. That one has come out and won again since to give the form a boost.
Connections also now fir Duc De Beauchene with a tongue-tie for the first time and that may well bring about further improvement, as he has sometimes looked a weak finisher in the past.
While that may suggest he might have a breathing problem, at 9/1 with BetVictor he looks well worth considering each-way.
Allaho the pick of Mullins quartet for novice stayers
Champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins launches a four-pronged attack on the 3m Grade 1 Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle (17:30) and Allaho, the choice of stable jockey Ruby Walsh, looks the pick of the quartet.
This Cheveley Park Stud owned son of No Risk At All ran a cracker on his sole start in France when trained by Guy Cherel and finishing runner-up in a Listed contest at Auteuil.
He then shaped as if needing the outing on his first start for Mullins following 297 days on the sidelines when fourth of 11 to Exit Poll in a Leopardstown bumper.
Allaho then showed the benefit of that run, which cane over an inadequate 2m, when stepped up in trip to 3m and running out an impressive four-length winner over Minella Indo on hurdles debut in a Clonmel Grade 3 on good ground.
Although that rival turned around the form last time out when landing the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett at the cheltenham Festival, Allaho stayed on strongly to be nearest at the finish and beaten nine lengths on going which was arguably softer than ideal.
He was also sent off 8/1 that day, whereas Minella Indo sprang a 50/1 surprise. So, now returned to a sounder surface, the lightly-raced Allaho looks worth a bet at the 4/1 on offer with Boylesports to come out on top on this occasion.
Commander Of Fleet and Minella Indo hold claims
The aforementioned Albert Bartlett looks to hold the key to this contest. Minella Indo, a 100/30 shot with Betfair, hold obvious claims as he is officially the highest rated in the line-up.
He does, however, have to prove that was no fluke having been sent off at such huge odds.
Commander Of Fleet, who finished runner-up to him in that race, ran a cracker to be beaten just two lengths as he made a costly error two from home, before sticking to the task well up the stiff uphill run to the line.
The Gordon Elliott trained five-year-old has previously shown tremendous battling qualities to land a Grade 1 at Leopardstown by half-a-length from Rhinestone.
It’s worth bearing in mind that he landed the valuable Goffs Land Rover Bumper at this meeting 12 months ago in impressive fashion by 8 1/2 lengths.
Commander Of Fleet went on to make it a perfect two from two at the track when scoring by six lengths on hurdling debut, so this venue clearly plays to his strengths.
He can be backed at 4/1 with Betway and looks sure to go well and give Allaho plenty to think about.
Abacadabras looks just the trick in bumper
In the Grade 1 Champion Bumper run over 2m (18:40), the Gordon Elliott trained Abacadabras looks a worthy 11/4 favourite with Betfred to get back to winning ways following a cracking run last time out.
After winning a bumper on debut at Galway, this Gigginstown House Stud owned son of Davidoff was in the process of running a big race in a Leopardstown Grade 2 when chasing eventual winner Envoi Allen – only to run out and crash through the rail inside the final furlong.
He looked booked for second spot that day, so the third, fourth and fifth home – Embittered, Beacon Edge and Mt Leinster – have work to do if they are to finish in front of him on this occasion.
Abacadabras has since shown that unfortunate incident to be a blip in finishing an excellent 5 3/4 lengths fourth of 14 to Envoi Allen in the Grade 1 Cheltenham Champion Bumper.
That Festival form sets a clear standard and a repeat effort is going to make him very hard to beat.
If he does fail to live up to expectations, then Santa Rossa could be the one to take advantage as she has some smart form in the book and receives a handy 7lb sex-allowance.
This Dermot McLoughlin trained five-year-old mare was sent off an seemingly unfancied 25/1 shot when winning on debut at Fairyhouse, before following-up in good style in a Grade 2 at Leopardstown when staying on strongly to score by 3/4 lengths.
Santa Rossa also ran well in feat in her hat-trick bid when a 3 3/4 lengths third of 12 to McFabulous in a Grade 2 at Aintree’s Grand National Festival over 2m 1f.
She now drops back to 2m over which she is two-from-two. Santa Rossa looks sure to go well and appeals as a solid each-way punt at 6/1 with Paddy Power.