Voler gunning for Grace brace
Voler La Vedette will face four opponents as she bids to repeat last year's victory in the Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
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Colm Murphy's star mare has to bounce back after a shock defeat by Whatuthink on her seasonal reappearance at Navan three weeks ago.
Murphy reports Voler La Vedette to be in good form as she bids to retain her crown.
"Touch wood she is good and well in herself. Fingers crossed, we are hoping for a nice run," said the County Wexford trainer.
"We're happy going there on Sunday. Ideally, we'd have preferred she won the last day, but apart from the result, all is well.
"Hopefully she'll get the run of the race."
Willie Mullins runs So Young and Zaidpour and is happy to run them at this level but feels that Voler La Vedette will take all the beating.
"Both these horses will like the ground and the trip and both are up to running in Grade One races, but the mare will be hard to beat," he said.
Dessie Hughes relies upon Si C'Etait Vrai and Hughes hopes to get a pointer to the future of his charge.
The Gigginstown House Stud-owned six-year-old narrowly failed to make all on his reappearance at this track towards the beginning of November.
Hughes said: "We think a lot of him, I know he's in the deep end, but we are just letting him take his chance.
"If he's not up to it in that sort of company he'll go over fences, but we thought we'd give him a try.
"There's only five runners and if a couple don't run up to form, he might have a chance."
Noel Meade's Monksland has just one defeat on his record over timber, when third to Simonsig in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Meade, however, is wary of the 7lb his charge must give to favourite Voler La Vedette.
Meade said: "He won well at Down Royal and everything has gone well since then, although this is obviously a tough ask for him giving weight away to the mare."
The three horses withdrawn at the final declaration stage were Staying Article, Thousand Stars and Trifolium, who is in the StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday.