Moscow Flyer Guide

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GUIDE

Fourteen horses remain in touch for the Moscow Flyer this weekend at Punchestown.

The contest is a Grade 2 National Hunt novice hurdle, over a distance of about 2 miles, with nine hurdles to be jumped. The race was first run in 2003 and was called the Byrne Group Novice Hurdle, before changing its name in 2009 to honour the racehorse, Moscow Flyer.

Ireland's Champion Trainer Willie Mullins looks set to have as many as three possibilities on Sunday, before the final declaration stage.

Mullins has dominated this contest in recent years - winning seven of the last ten renewals, including victory twelve months ago with Getabird.

He has also hosed up with the likes of Vautour, Douvan and Min, all winning prior to their engagements at the Cheltenham Festival.

Firstly, he has Buildmeupbuttercup, who was a smart winner on the flat in her days with Mick Channon, and made a winning hurdling debut for Mullins in a maiden hurdle at Navan last month. She is also the only mare in the field and receives 7lb as a result.

Prince D'Aubrelle is now a 9yo believe it or not, having been sidelined for over three years with injury. He won three bumpers back in 2015, before winning on his return and first start over hurdles at Tipperary last May.

Finally, Harrie was beaten at short odds on his Irish debut in a Down Royal bumper last year, but made a successful reappearance in a Tramore maiden hurdle last month, and looks the smartest prospect going forward out of the three.

Any of the Mullins trio though could make a name for themselves with a victory here, and be one of his leading candidates for the Novice events at the Festival, following in the footsteps of those named.

Trying to stop him in his tracks, is as per usual Gordon Elliott - who has never previously won this race, but appears determined to end that unwanted record.

He has as many as eight runners going to post on Sunday afternoon - all in the colours of Gigginstown House Stud.

The pick of the bunch have emerged as Swordsman and Commander Of Fleet, who look to be Elliott's leading players after both of their wins in maidens in the past couple of months.

They are joined with Felix Desjy and Monbeg Worldwide who both broke their tag in October of last year, but have disappointed since.

Vision D'honneur, Eclair De Beaufeu, Defi Bleu and Dallas Dec Pictons complete the battalion.

Jessica Harrington - who trained the great Moscow Flyer saddles Press Conference - who defeated the Mullins-trained and well-fancied Annamix at Limerick over Christmas.

Jetez - also of Harrington's yard, along with Henry De Bromhead's Jan Maat complete the fourteen runner field.

TRENDS

As we have already indicated, Willie Mullins has a pretty relentless record in this contest to date.

Seven wins in ten is a particularly strong record, and it would be hard to see past one of his three currently remaining in the field not winning this.

Three of the last four Mullins winners have been aged five, which would really suit the profile of Buildmeupbuttercup. Harrie can match the achievement of Mozoltov in 2013 by winning this as a 7yo, whilst Prince D'Aubrelle seeks to be the oldest horse in the race's history to land the odds.

Along with Gordon Elliott, Jessica Harrington who trained the great Moscow Flyer, has never bagged a winner.

In the last five years, four of the favourites have won, but then again, it could be a pig racing in the colours of Rich and Susannah Ricci and still be promoted to favourite.

Arguably, Min, Douvan and Vautour were some of the greatest horses of our time, but the years where that partnership have not owned the favourite, it has traditionally been more wide open.

That is also the case this time around with no Ricci runner.

Also to note, every winner of this contest since 2013 had won their previous race before arriving here - usually a maiden.

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