Man On The Spot: Toi story
Man On The Spot previews Sunday's excellent card at Fairyhouse, featuring three Grade Ones, with A Toi Phil well fancied.
A Toi Phil is the Drinmore selection
Bapaume won a minor race in France in April and has joined Willie Mullins so the fact that he's been thrown into Grade 3 company on his debut for the yard suggests he's held in high regard. Soir De Chantenay had better form in France having won at Enghien and twice at Auteuil for which he's penalised. Mega Fortune started odds-on for his hurdling bow at Thurles but was badly impeded and fell then won in a canter at Down Royal. He receives 4lb from LANDOFHOPEANDGLORY but Joseph O'Brien's charge has looked a very classy recruit in his two races to date and it will take a big effort to beat him.
Willie Mullins has won the last two and has a trio entered this time. Ruby Walsh has chosen PENHILL over the very impressive Naas winner Saturnas and the prolific Airlie Beach and his mount can justify the faith. He didn't jump fluently when landing a Grade 3 at Tipperary in October and will need to do better here but gets the vote in an intriguing event. Labaik has been rejuvenated by Gordon Elliott having refused to race on his last two starts on the Flat and he also landed a Grade 3 last time though the opposition here looks tougher. Peace News won on the Flat in France and made a very promising start over timber at Cork where he only had to be eased into the lead and won with plenty in hand. Bryan Cooper rides him rather than Le Martalin while the four-year-old Forge Meadow only scrambled home in a Wexford maiden.
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Ruby Walsh has chosen VROUM VROUM MAG over stable companions Shaneshill and Whiteout. His mount, unbeaten in nine starts since joining Willie Mullins from France, ended the last campaign with victories in the Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham then beating a top-class field in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle. Apple's Jade is a worthy opponent and this sort of trip should bring out the best in her. The brilliant winner of Grade 1's at Aintree and Punchestown in the spring, she was outpaced over the minimum on her reappearance but stayed on strongly when just failing to overhaul Irvine in last week's Fighting Fifth. The other four-year-old in the line-up, Ivanovich Gorbatov, beat her in the Triumph Hurdle but couldn't get near her in the two championship events subsequently and hasn't made the expected progress. Shaneshill, last season's RSA Chase runner-up, was only just touched off in a Grade 1 in the USA over three miles and that appears his best trip.
Sir Scorpion stepped up to 2m4f at Naas and won nicely but is 8lb higher and may find some of these too quick. SOLITA is a very smart performer on decent ground which she should get here. She was in fine form in the spring landing a Leopardstown handicap then following up over fences on this track so looks to have a good chance here. Sempre Medici completed a Grade 2/3 double in testing ground early in the year and would prefer some rain while this looks a stiff test for a four-year-old though Campeador was throwing down a strong challenge when falling at the last in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham. His stable companion Mick Jazz couldn't get close to his own stablemate Labaik in a Grade 3 novice hurdle at Navan but should still go well here. The progressive St Stephens Green might have won at Punchestown had he stood up while Copy That made a promising comeback after a long absence at Galway and should be winning soon.
An excellent renewal and Gordon Elliott holds a strong hand with three entries. Bryan Cooper would have had the pick of the four Gigginstown runners and has chosen A TOI PHIL, who has been ridden by Ruby Walsh on his two victories over fences. His demolition of a Grade 2 field at Punchestown last month stamped him as a high-class young chaser and he can see off these smart rivals. The owners also have the exciting Alpha Des Obeaux engaged and he's got better with every run over fences culminating in a comfortable victory over the useful Westerner Lady in a Grade 3 at Cork. Anibale Fly ended the last campaign winning a lucrative handicap hurdle at Punchestown and made a vary satisfactory start over fences when beating the useful Martello Tower at Navan so Tony Martin's charge is greatly respected. Road To Respect had the well supported Prince Of Scars in second when making a successful chasing debut at Naas and can only get better while Diamond King, last season's Coral Cup winner, made a sparkling start over fences at Galway and could be anything though the opposition here is very much stiffer.
Thelobstercatcher won the race in 2013 but wasn't in the same kind of form in the spring. At the other end of the weight scale, the 2015 Irish National winner Thunder And Roses has also been struggling in strong company. He Rock's shot up the weights after completing a double in the autumn but didn't get the best of runs on his hat-trick bid at Galway and can do better. As De Pique didn't appear to stay a marathon trip at Cork after his victory at Gowran and this is no easier but FOREVER GOLD (NAP) was only just beaten in that Cork event and this trip is ideal so he looks the one to be on, especially with his regular rider again able to claim his 5lb. Undressed finished third at Cork and should be thereabouts again as he's in good form.
Several of these arrive from the point-to-point field including Getabird, who ran out on his debut in March and profited from a last-fence departure when scoring at Largy the following month. He went for an incredible 200,000 euros at the sales later. Calino D'airy went for £150,000 after a narrow victory between the flags at Broughshane but Stowaway Forever could be the best of the trio having been a very impressive winner at Loughbrickland. Imperial Way, narrowly beaten at Sligo, and MR SHOWTIME, who just failed to give Hardline 7lb and a beating at Thurles, have strong bumper form and the latter looks the one to be on as the Thurles winner might have made a successful hurdling debut but for falling at the last. Jamie Codd's presence on board Love And Wishes suggests he's expected to go well.
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