Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle Guide

1. Allaho

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey - Ruby Walsh

Lightly raced Cheveley Park recruit, who stayed on stoutly in the Grade One Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival over six weeks ago.

A race prone to an upset, he is did not disgrace by any means back in third, and usually those who finish down the field are the ones to take out from the race.

He was a good winner of a Grade Three at Clonmel back in February on what was his hurdles debut for the yard, and clearly they have no issue in throwing him in at the deep end.


2. Cap York

T - Noel Meade

J - Denis O'Regan

Cap York was a good winner of a Pertemps Qualifier at this venue two months ago on what was his second start over the three mile trip, but he has been well below-par since at higher levels.

He finished ninth at Cheltenham in the three-mile novice final on the final day, and failed to bounce back behind Dommage Pour Toi in a weaker Class One at Fairyhouse over Easter.

Much more required in this, and needs to work on his jumping.

3. Carefully Selected

T - Willie Mullins

J - Paul Townend

The 2018 Champion Bumper neck-second Carefully Selected finally made his first appearance over hurdles as a novice at Limerick just over a month ago; in effect his trainer carefully identified where and when his return run should be.

Kept on well that day which was on heavy ground, and with most of his victories and racecourse appearances on soft, we think connections would favour a bit of rain to arrive in the next 48 hours.

Very inexperienced despite winning and placing in a couple of points back in the day, and there should now be more to come.

4. Castlebawn West

T - Willie Mullins

J - Danny Mullins

Another one for the Mullins battalion, though Castlebawn West has plenty to do and build upon after pulling up in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham.

He did finish fourth at Fairyhouse in that Grade Two as we keep mentioning, but the form does not really look that strong to play a part in the outcome to this contest.

Yet to tackle three miles - this could be too much.

5. Commander Of Fleet

T - Gordon Elliott

J - Jack Kennedy

Just like Allaho, Commander Of Fleet ran an absolute blinder behind Minella Indo in the Albert Bartlett, and will have obvious claims going into a repeat event based here at Punchestown.

Two miles was clearly too quick for him, and the decision made by Gigginstown to step this horse up has certainly worked out so far - winning the Grade One 2m6f contest at the Leopardstown February meeting.

Likely to go close.

6. Defi Bleu

T - Gordon Elliott

J - Davy Russell

Defi Bleu raced in the 2m4f Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival - the Martin Pipe for Conditional Jockeys, and he will need to make the successful transition into a Graded horse and not a handicapper.

Few seem to go through the phase readily, and the last time Defi Bleu raced in a Class One he finished in double figure digits at Leopardstown.

Back into a high-end affair now, and it would be a brave ask to win this having failed to struck since winning his maiden six months ago.

7. First Approach

T - Noel Meade

J - Sean Flanagan

One of the big market outsiders, First Approach has been hit and miss at times for Noel Meade, and will need to be on top form if playing a part in the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle.

Since landing his maiden at Down Royal back in November, the six-year-old son of Robin Des Champs is yet to win properly in five attempts - not accounting for his victory in a Novice at Thurles when he was left alone from the last.

Well below par last time at Leopardstown and at Cheltenham, and others are clearly preferred.

8. Gallant John Joe

T - Oliver McKiernan

J - Barry Browne

Rising through the hierachy , Gallant John Joe won a Listed race at Naas back in March - beating Willie Mullins newcomer Mister Blue Sky, before disappointing when returning Grade Two level.

Has some good form notoriously at Leopardstown, finishing second and third in two very different contests - the third at 33/1 was only seven lengths behind Commander Of Fleet who also goes here.

Seen much more of him than a lot of these, but still very much an unknown where he ranks.

9. Go Another One

T - John McConnell

J - Richard Johnson

John McConnell has again acquired the services of the recently crowned Champion Jockey Richard Johnson, and will be hoping his seven-year-old can simply go another step in the right direction.

He has not finished outside the top two in his last nine starts - all of which over hurdles and comes here seeking an ambitious hat-trick bid.

Wins at Perth and at Thurles have seen him back in the frame, and rightfully deserves his place in this field, but will it be enough?

10. Minella Indo

T - Henry De Bromhead

J - Rachael Blackmore

Rachael Blackmore has another leading opportunity to strike for Grade One gold, by joining forces once again with Minella Indo - who she guided to success at 50/1 in the Albert Bartlett back in March.

The six-year-old was always in command up the steep hill at Prestbury Park, reversing the form with Allaho after the Grade Three contest at Clonmel back on Valentines Day.

Was third on his hurdles debut, so clearly a talented individual. Flatter track may suit others, but commands obvious respect and a definite contender this time.

11. School Boy Hours

T - Noel Meade

J - Mark Walsh

Mark Walsh rides School Boy Hours in the colours of JP McManus, and Noel Meade was happy to send this horse straight over hurdles last year and not try him out in bumpers.

Third on debut at Navan thirteen months ago, since then bar a couple of falls, he has progressed from second into a victory at Cork last time out, breaking his maiden tag in the process.

Up the class ladder he goes, and will need to be something special to be seen to the fore here.

12. Walk Away

T - Henry De Bromhead

J - Robbie Power

Walk Away's unbeaten run came to an end at Aintree last time out, when he well dispatched by Nicky Henderson's Festival runner-up Champ.

Better horses there that day, and it may be the same here, but there was some sparkle when he won his maiden at Thurles indicating he had a touch of class going forward.

Form has not worked out however, but is a three-mile winner in his pointing days.

13. Salsaretta

T - Willie Mullins

J - David Mullins

The only mare in the field Salsaretta seems to have lost all her confidence since unseating Patrick Mullins courtesy of a mistake at Leopardstown.

Seventh at Cheltenham and ninth at Fairyhouse behind the impressive mare Honeysuckle, she needs to rediscover that devastating touch that we all saw when she prevailed at Limerick (beating Felix Desjy) and at Sligo when winning at odds of 12/1 on.

Rain required if at her best.