Punchestown for Petit Mouchoir
Irish Champion Hurdle hero Petit Mouchoir kicks off his career over fences on a quality card at Punchestown on Wednesday.
A smart novice for champion trainer Willie Mullins two seasons ago, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned grey joined Henry de Bromhead prior to the start of the last campaign and struck Grade One glory in both the Ryanair Hurdle and the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.
He was a highly creditable third after making much of the running in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March and makes his first competitive appearance since in the Coral.ie Bet & Watch Irish And UK Racing Live Beginners Chase, with Davy Russell taking the ride for the first time.
De Bromhead said: "He seems good and we've been happy with him at home. He's schooled well and Punchestown is a nice place to start him off."
Petit Mouchoir faces 10 rivals in the two-mile contest including the Gordon Elliott-trained Brelade, who was placed in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle last season and was runner-up on his chasing debut at Gowran Park late last month.
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A handful of familiar names contest the Coral.ie Free Racehorse Ownership With The Coral Champions Club Rated Hurdle.
Elliott saddles both the hat-trick seeking The Game Changer and Campeador, who fell at the final flight when looking the likely winner of the 2016 Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham.
The JP McManus-owned five-year-old ran just once last season, also coming to grief at the final flight when holding every chance of landing a valuable prize at Fairyhouse.
Shark Hanlon's veteran Hidden Cyclone is sent into battle once more, while De Bromhead is hoping Ornua can get his career back on track after pulling up in the Galway Hurdle.
"I think he went off a bit quick in Galway. He seems in good form, so we'll see how we go," added De Bromhead.
Dermot Weld's 2014 Champion Bumper hero Silver Concorde gets an eighth chance to open his jumping account in the Coral.ie Bet 5 Euros Get 20 Euros In Free Bets Maiden Hurdle.
The nine-year-old faces a far from straightforward task, however, with Elliott's Cracking Smart, Joseph O'Brien's Shady Operator and Borderline Chatho from Alan Fleming's yard all bringing quality form from the National Hunt Flat sphere to the table.
Espoir D'Allen, a winner on the Flat in France, is an interesting recruit to the jumping game for owner McManus and trainer Gavin Cromwell in the opening Coral.ie Best Price Guaranteed On All Irish Races 3-Y-O Hurdle.
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