Storm Brendan was to blame for Punchestown’s card being cancelled on Monday, but it was swiftly rescheduled for Wednesday, much to the delight of Gordon Elliott who has no fewer than ten runners on the seven-race card, writes David Jennings.
Elliott and Willie Mullins are once again embroiled in a thrilling tussle for the Irish trainers’ championship with the pair locked together on 124 winners each for the season.
However, Elliott holds the all-important lead at the top of the table as he has earned €2,860,545 in prize-money compared to Mullins’ €2,499,078.
Elliott has four runners in the opening Ladbrokes “Where The Nation Plays” Maiden Hurdle (12.30) and the booking of Davy Russell for Oak Park would suggest he is the number one hope following his fine third at the track on New Year’s Eve.
Elliott's best chance of a winner would look to be in the Ladbrokes Football "Acca-Boosty" Maiden Hurdle (1.30) in the shape of Column Of Fire. The smart bumper performer fell at the second-last at Fairyhouse on New Year's Day when poised to pounce and is odds-on to gain compensation under Russell.
Denis O'Regan is on board the Elliott-trained Nobel Joshua in the Ladbrokes Daily Odds Boosts Handicap Hurdle (1.00), while Domitian will be a leading fancy in the Ladbrokes Mares Maiden Hurdle (2.00) against the Willie Mullins-trained Et Dite.
Conor McNamara is beginning to make a name for himself following a double at Fairyhouse last Saturday, and Tokyo Getaway could keep the young claimer in the headlines with victory in the Ladbrokes Daily Odds Boosts Handicap Hurdle (3.05).
Significantly, two of McNamara's wins in the last fortnight have been supplied by Tokyo Getaway's trainer Gavin Cromwell and the jockey's 5lb claim should help the mare reverse form with Howaya Aoife, who beat her over a shorter trip at the same venue in November.
Since then the point-to-point winner has finished second in a beginners' chase at Tramore, form advertised in the interim by third-placed Alohamora.
Alohamora has since landed back-to-back successes, including a wide-margin win at Fairyhouse on Saturday. That was achieved off a mark just 2lb below Tokyo Getaway's current rating.
The Getaway mare is the youngest in the 12-strong field and is potentially the most progressive of the bunch.