Tuesday’s Irish raiders
The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
The Irish have an excellent record in the traditional curtain-raiser at the festival, having won it 10 times since the year 2000.
Bunk Off Early (top right) was an impressive winner on debut at Leopardstown and followed up with a second place finish in the Deloitte over two miles and two furlongs.
Back in trip, over a fast-run two miles, Bunk Off Early should be seen to better effect.
Market leader Melon has generated a lot of interest in the build-up. He has had just one run over hurdles — where he won in good style at Leopardstown — but carries a big weight of expectation.
Best of the Irish: Bunk Off Early Alternative: Melon
Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy
Although there was an Irish onetwo in this race 12 months ago, the raiders could struggle to make the frame this time around.
With the talented Yorkhill set to go elsewhere, trainer Willie Mullins could depend on Royal Caviar.
He fell at the last when travelling like the winner in the Irish Arkle back in January. If his jumping holds together here, then he could have a say.
Some Plan is three from four for the season. He fell here back in November when going well, but got back to winning ways at Leopardstown.
Best of the Irish: Royal Caviar Alternative: Some Plan
Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase
This race has been dominated by the English for the past 10 years. Noble Endeavor stands out as the pick of the Irish runners. He landed a valuable handicap chase at Leopardstown in December and may have more to offer. He has a touch of class and should go close for Gordon Elliott.
The novice, Marinero, has been running well this season and he is an interesting contender off a nice racing weight. Pleasant Company took the Grade Three BobbyJo Chase last time out and he could run well.
Best of the Irish: Noble Endeavor
Stan James Champion Hurdle
The Irish go in search of a fifth Champion Hurdle on the bounce, albeit without a star hurdler among them this time.
This year’s edition looks wide open and the leading Irish contender would appear to be Petit Mouchoir. He was only eighth over course and distance in the Supreme last year, but has won two Grade One contests this term. Although the form may not be all that strong, and he is likely at his best on a softer surface, he looks capable of giving a good account of himself in a modest renewal.
Footpad, runner-up in the Irish Champion Hurdle, will be there to pick up the pieces if this turns into a real stamina test.
Best of the Irish: Petit Mouchoir Alternative: Footpad OLBG Mares’ Hurdle
Last year’s winner Vroum Vroum Mag made hard work of her prep run at Doncaster but, if at her best — which she’ll need to be — should come up trumps here.
Jer’s Girl, a top-level winner, holds massive claims on her return from open company. She should thrive over this longer trip and better ground will be a bonus.
Apple’s Jade was runner-up in the Triumph last year and has since gone on to win a hat-trick of Grade Ones. Now trained by Gordon Elliott, she finished second to Limini last time out and should feature again here.
Best of the Irish: Vroum Vroum Mag
Alternative: Jer’s Girl
JT McNamara National Hunt SteepleChase
A Genie In Abottle leads the way for the Irish in this four-mile contest.
He has performed really well over three miles this season and ran a great race when second in a Grade Three at Naas in Janu- ary.
This marathon trip could bring about further improvement and he holds leading claims.
Edwulf landed a handicap over two and a half miles last month and shaped like he would stay further. He could run well for trainer Joseph O’Brien.
Best of the Irish: A Genie In Abottle
Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase
Squouateur was doing his best towards the end of a two-mile contest at Naas the last day, and he should build on that effort over further.
Heron Heights won at Cheltenham earlier in the campaign. He is forgiven his latest defeat which came over an inadequate trip and on unsuitable ground. He could make the frame for Henry De Bromhead.
Best of the Irish: Squouateur
Alternative: Heron Heights