Walsh can pour it on
Our horse-by-horse guide to Sunday's Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
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Smart novice whose sole defeat came at the Cheltenham Festival when an 18 length third behind the exciting Simonsig over two miles five. Had plenty in hand of his five rivals on his seasonal reappearance so he was entitled to win as he did but it was an impressive performance and he deserves his chance in this field.
Si C'Etait Vrai
Just the one win under Rules to his name and that came on his hurdling bow having chased home the smart Hidden Universe on his sole start in a bumper. He hasn't gone on from that as might have been hoped and has a mountain to climb on all known form.
Ex-French performer who won his first two starts for this yard before finishing third to First Lieutenant in a strong renewal of the Neptune at Cheltenham. Won three times last season but faced little in the way of opposition on each occasion and his two runs at this level since his Neptune third leave plenty to be desired and Ruby Walsh prefers Zaidpour.
Has won almost half of his starts over hurdles, including when beating Voler La Vedette in the Galmoy over three miles last January, and has the highest official rating of the quintet. The Champion Hurdle failed to show him in his best light but he acquitted himself creditably on all other starts last time and, with conditions in his favour, he looks a big player.
Voler La Vedette
Smart and versatile mare who was surprisingly turned over at short odds on her seasonal reappearance with Andrew Lynch reporting that the mare felt flat although her trainer feels she didn't fare too badly given the way the race was run. Finished third in this race in 2010 before landing the spoils from Mourad last year and will be fancied to defend her crown over what is thought to be her optimum trip.
An intriguing heat with Monksland stepping up to open company at the top level, Voler La Vedette needing to bounce back and conditions looking ideal for Zaidpour.
Tactics will undoubtedly play a part as they did in the Lismullen Hurdle but it was still disappointing that the mare failed to pick up in her customary fashion that day.
She may well bounce back but a doubt remains and preference - at the prices - is for Zaidpour whose chance looks less likely to be compromised by tactics.