Faugheen fancied on comeback
Keith Hamer says Faugheen can make a winning return at Leopardstown on Sunday – he has a tip in every race.
Faugheen has been thriving ahead of his return to action
FONTWELL: 1.40 Sergio, 2.10 Cucklington, 2.40 Potters Approach, 3.10 Prime Venture, 3.40 VENETIAN LAD (NAP), 4.10 Stiff Upper Lip.
LEOPARDSTOWN: 1.30 Melon, 2.00 Monalee, 2.30 Identity Thief, 3.00 King's Wharf, 3.30 Faugheen, 4.00 Thomond, 4.30 Debuchet.
SEDGEFIELD: 1.20 Spiculas, 1.50 Applesandpierres, 2.20 Kelka, 2.50 Ascendant, 3.20 Special Catch, 3.50 Theatre Act, 4.20 Nicki's Nipper.
DOUBLE: Venetian Lad and Ascendant.
Leopardstown stages the best card of the day, with pride of place going to the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle.
Faugheen has not been seen since lifting this prize 12 months ago and therefore could not defend his Cheltenham crown following his success in the Champion Hurdle in 2015.
He has been pleasing trainer Willie Mullins of late, though, and can enhance his already strong claims for Cheltenham by repeating last year's triumph, in the process giving connections a timely boost after the injury to Annie Power.
Clearly he is not going to be at peak fitness after so long off, but equally there is no doubting Mullins would risk him unduly.
Petit Mouchoir is the potential fly in the ointment, but it will still be a major shock if he does not get the job done.
Melon is an intriguing Mullins runner in the Donohue Marquees Maiden Hurdle.
The five-year-old French import is around a 12-1 shot for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle despite not having run over jumps yet.
The 12-year-old, trained by Lydia Richards, may have been beaten four times on this track since he was last successful in April, but those defeats have seen him drop down to a decent mark.
Now 4lb lower than for his latest victory, Venetian Lad looks poised to strike in the Winston Churchill W&S Handicap Chase.
Special Catch can make a winning first start for Malcolm Jefferson in the Happy New Year From Paxtons Handicap Chase at Sedgefield following the retirement of Keith Reveley.
The 10-year-old is a decent performer on his day, as he showed when winning at Ayr in October, and looks worth supporting as he returns after a six-week absence.
Ascendant is fancied to strike for the first time in almost two years when dropping in grade for the Visit The Cafe Bistro 1927 Onsite Selling Hurdle.
The 11-year-old, trained by Johnny Farrelly, may not quite be the force he was but he has been facing much better opposition than what he is up against on this occasion.
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