Royal Bond Novice Hurdle Runner-by-Runner Guide

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The first Grade One Novice Hurdle of the season takes place at Fairyhouse on Sunday courtesy of the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle. The race usually produces some of the most talented Horses over the jumps, with its roll of honour including the likes of Hurricane Fly, Champagne Fever, Jezki and Nichols Canyon.

Mengli Khan won last year’s renewal for Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud, and the combination are double-handed in the small but select field of five that will go down to post for this year’s race.

ARAMON

T: Willie Mullins

J: Paul Townend

Representing the Owner/Trainer combination that landed the event two years ago with Airlie Beach, Aramon has a 2/3 record over Hurdles, with his only defeat coming against the re-opposing Triplicate at Listowel in September.

The five-year-old stepped up his form markedly when comfortably winning a Grade Three at Navan at the beginning of November, with stablemate Quick Grabim back further down the field.

It was unseasonably Good ground that day, and if the rain doesn’t materialise on Saturday then his proven form could make him the biggest danger in the field.

However, he’s seemingly the second-choice out of the Mullins stable here, with first jockey Ruby Walsh opting to ride Quick Grabim in the contest instead.

QUICK GRABIM

T: Willie Mullins

J: Ruby Walsh

Apart from fluffing his lines behind the aforementioned Aramon last time out, Quick Grabim has been impressive in his two victories over timber.

Willie Mullins has preserved his novice status for this year after a stop – start season last year, and it looked to have paid off with an authoritative success over Triplicate in a Grade Three at Tipperary in October.

His last run can be forgiven, but he did stay on towards the end of that race, and given he is the choice of number one Jockey Ruby Walsh, the six-year-old looks to be Mullins’ number one hope going into the contest.

TRIPLICATE

T: J P O’Brien

J: Mark Walsh

The JP Mcmanus-owned gelding’s form ties in with the previously mentioned horses throughout the first half of this season. He managed to fend off Aramon at Listowel in September, but he was firmly put in his place by Quick Grabim last time out.

One of the more experienced Horses over hurdles going into the race, but needs to find more with the top on level weights to be up to this standard. However, with the topsy-turvy nature of this season’s Novice Hurdle form he may just sneak in here as a dark horse.

COMMANDER OF FLEET

T: Gordon Elliott

J: Davy Russell

One of the most eye-catching performers at the Punchestown Festival when cruising to victory on his sole bumper start, he made a satisfactory debut over hurdles when beating inferior rivals at the same venue.

His tendency to jump left and wander when hitting the front leaves cause for concern, but he is regarded as one of the stables leading Novice Hurdle hopes for this season and in time a potential Gold Cup horse.

Despite his lack of experience over hurdles, he will be the warm favourite to open his Grade One account here and put his foot in the Cheltenham Festival door.

TINTANGLE

T: Gordon Elliott

J: Rachael Blackmore

The trainer’s second string in the race, the mare made a forgetful start to life over hurdles when falling on her debut at Galway, and followed that up with a hard-fought victory at Thurles on Thursday.

A lot more is required on that form to be competitive at this level and looks to be heading here with a chance of gaining some valuable place money.

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