It will be treat after treat for racegoers at Punchestown on Sunday, with the Grade Two Liam & Valerie Brennan Memorial Florida Pearl Novice Chase an excellent back-up to the featured Morgiana Hurdle.
Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott are both doubly represented in the extended two-and-three-quarter-miler. Andrew McNamara and Henry de Bromhead runners complete the six-horse field.
Blow By Blow attained Grade One bumper honours when under Willie Mullins’ care, but is very firmly on the Elliott team now, and the big Robin Des Champs gelding seems the one to aim at.
That view results from Blow By Blow’s impressive chasing bow at Galway, and Davy Russell takes over in the plate here with Jack Kennedy suspended.
Elliott said: “He won his beginners’ chase first time out and I’d be anxious to get more experience into him ahead of the Drinmore so this race looks a good option.”
Elliott also call on Cubomania, a different type in that he has been on the go through the summer but he did win at Cheltenham last time out.
Prior to that he had finished third to Cadmium in the Buck House Novice Chase.
“Cubomania has done brilliantly over the last couple of months and looked better than ever when he won at Cheltenham last time,” said Elliott.
Mullins and Elliott again cross swords in the finale, and there will not be any early departures with a sizzling Mervyn Gray Construction (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race in prospect.
Mullins’ Mt Leinster and Elliott’s Malone Road have all the promise in the world, after bumper successes at Ballinrobe and Down Royal respectively.
Malone Road was an expensive recruit from the point-to-point fields for Cheveley Park Stud, while Mt Leinster has changed ownership too, since his September win.
Blackbow carried the Roaringwater Syndicate colours with distinction last term. Their number includes Derval O’Rourke, former top-class international athlete, and Mt Leinster may well provide the County Cork grouping with some big days out.
Cheltenham Champion Bumper heroine Relegate starts off over timber for Closutton in the Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle.
Ruby Walsh replaces his now-retired sister, Katie, on the five-year-old, said to be an unimpressive work horse at home.
This two-mile-six-furlong trip is expected to suit well, in a contest where the main dangers may be Cuneo and The Big Dog.
A great servant for his owners, Susannah and Rich Ricci, and the Mullins yard down the years, Ballycasey embarks on a cross-country career in the EMS Copiers Risk Of Thunder Chase.
Patrick Mullins rides the grey in the curtain-raiser.