Little faces big ask on Friday

Henry de Bromhead admits he is giving Little Folke a stiff test in Graded company at Down Royal on Friday after she was demoted from first place in a maiden hurdle at Clonmel on her latest start.

Henry de Bromhead, trainer of Little Folke

The five-year-old will try to acquire some black type in the EBF Lough Construction Ltd Mares Novice Hurdle, in which she faces six rivals.

After finishing in the frame in two bumpers, Little Folke battled on well to be first past the post on her hurdles debut.

However, the stewards took a dim view of her jockey Davy Russell catching runner-up Solar Heat in the closing stages and reversed the placings.

"She got disqualified the last day and we thought it was an opportunity to get some black type, so we'll see how we get on," said the County Waterford trainer.

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"She's a nice mare. Obviously, we're throwing her in at the deep end."

Shattered Love, trained by Gordon Elliott, got her hurdling career off to a successful start in a 16-runner heat at Tipperary a month ago after taking third spot in a Grade Two bumper at Aintree in April.

"She's a nice mare. This will sharpen her up but it's just nice to get her going," said Eddie O'Leary, racing manager for owners Gigginstown House Stud.

Willie Mullins saddles the likely favourite in Airlie Beach, who already heads the ante-post market for the mares novices' hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival after taking her 100 per cent record over the smaller obstacles to four in a Listed contest at Gowran Park five weeks ago.

She is owned by Supreme Horse Racing Club, whose manager Steve Massey said: "Our only worry would be coming back to two miles. She has done all of her running over around two-and-a-half, so we'll have to see how she copes.

"She has plenty of pace and with it being a Grade Three, we're happy to let her take her chance.

"She's unbeaten and hopefully still improving, so it's exciting times for her owners."

Completing the septet are Field Robin, Hello Sweetie, Miss Eyecatcher and Rosshaven Lady.

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