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Bar One Racing Juvenile Hurdle preview

A great card of National Hunt racing at Fairyhouse on Sunday with several of the feature races to be covered. First up, it's regular contributor, the astute Dave Stephens, @davestevos, to cover the juvenile feature which opens the card.

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BAR ONE RACING JUVENILE HURDLE
SUNDAY 12.40 FAIRYHOUSE
(Grade 3) (3yo) (2M) €30,000


Sunday is a big day at Fairyhouse with the Drinmore and Hatton's Grace the main attractions. They should be two fascinating Grade 1 contests but there could also be some festival clues to be found in the day's opener, a Grade 3 Juvenile hurdle that has been won by useful sorts like Anafilet and the ill fated Our Conor in recent years.

Willie Mullins has won it the last two years in a row but he has no runner this time around. The last seven favourites have won and the biggest priced winner in the last decade was 5/1. It looks a more open heat this season and there are a quite a few interesting runners in the field. You can check out my opinion on each individual competitor and find out my selections below.

1. RASHAAN KIDD/FOGARTY

Flat bred son of Manduro who is a half brother to Irish 2000 Guineas runner up Rayeni. He didn't pull up any trees on his sole flat outing over 7f at Dundalk but he has looked a different proposition over timber and has hosed up on both his hurdle runs. He won on good to yielding ground at Roscommon by 6L in a 2m maiden and while the form hasn't worked out he couldn't have done it more impressively.

He followed that up with another facile win at Listowel, this time on soft ground, and he landed the odds with the minimum of fuss. He had Lake Champlain 19L back in third that day, the exact distance that Missy Tata beat the same rival by. That filly is 4/6, so at odds of 6/1 Rashaan looks to represent serious value. He has the pedigree to be a quality horse and it will be fascinating to see how he gets on upped in class for Carlow based trainer Colin Kidd. Mikey Fogarty keeps the ride.

2. LE VAGABOND O'GRADY/LYNCH

Formerly trained in France, this son of Footstepsinthesand made a good impression on his second hurdles start, sent off at short odds and justifying market confidence with a dominant performance on good to firm ground at Thurles (2m). Worryingly though he was a faller and looked held on his previous run at Ballinrobe when the ground was soft.

His pedigree suggests that quick ground will suit him best, and his dam's best run came on a sound surface. It lashed rain on Friday in the Fairyhouse area and it will more than likely be very testing on Sunday. His previous runs on soft combined with his breeding would suggest that conditions won't be to his liking this weekend, and he looks way too short at odds of 8/1.

3. NEWBERRY NEW HARRINGTON/POWER

Jessie Harrington's string has been in brilliant form in recent weeks and she has been firing in the winners at a relentless rate. Those that haven't won have been mostly hitting the frame and this son of Kodiac has run well on his couple of hurdle runs since switching from the flat. He was rated 80 on the level at one stage, even though he failed to win a race.

He started off with a decent first effort over hurdles behind the well regarded Jer's Girl at Limerick (2m soft) and built on that with a good run behind Thywillbedone at Punchestown, again over 2m on soft. He hasn't shown the same level of ability as his opponents over timber but a big run would come as no surprise given his connections' form. If he can reverse the form with Thywillbedone he has a place chance at best at odds of 16/1.

4. ROCKET PUNCH ELLIOTT/COOPER

Represents strong connections and this son of Mafki was a decent sort on the flat for Andrew Balding, winning twice over a mile (a/w and good to firm). He ran a cracker off 85 on his final flat start at York (10.5f good to soft) and he was snapped up at the sales by Gigginstown for 57000gns. That last flat run suggests that 2m over hurdles should be within his compass but the worry has to be the ground.

He ran well on good to soft at York but it will be a lot more testing at Fairyhouse this Sunday and his young sire Mafki's stats with soft ground runners doesn't inspire confidence (1/9 on heavy). His dam is exceedingly well related and is a half sister to top class performers Reefscape, Martaline and Coastal Path. He is bred to be useful and his trainer will have him well schooled for his hurdling debut. However, he was well beaten his sole flat start on soft, and at 14/1 he is best watched until getting better ground.

5. SPORTS BARROW HUGHES/LOUGHRAN

Sandra Hughes' father Dessie took this with Our Conor back in 2012 en route to a scintillating success at Cheltenham. It looks unlikely that this son of Windsor Knot is in the same league as that one though. He was poor on the flat, well beaten in two maidens, but he absolutely hosed up on his hurdling d├ębut at 33/1 on good ground at Punchestown.

However, worryingly in the context of the likely conditions at Fairyhouse, he bombed out on soft ground next time over the same course and distance, a good 40L behind Newberry New and Thywillbedone. His dam is well connected, but those relations were best on a sound surface, and that could well be the case with Sports Barrow too. He can be backed at 33/1 but looks best left alone until he gets his preferred good ground.

6. TILIVER FLEMING/HESKIN

Hails from a yard that has started the season in superb form and this son of Muhaymin was a smooth winner on his first start for this stable in a soft ground 2m maiden at Ballinrobe. He had Double Windsor 9L back in 2nd but the form hasn't been franked and it looks well below what some of his rivals here have achieved.

He was well beaten by Lake Champlain and Missy Tata on his next outing at Down Royal and he had no obvious excuses for that run. He has a decent pedigree but it doesn't appeal as much as some of his other rivals. That last effort leaves him with an awful lot to prove in this field and it would be a big surprise if he could win at odds of 14/1.

7. MISSY TATA ELLIOTT/WALSH

The second of the Elliott contenders and she is well fancied by the bookies to take this prize. She gets a handy weight for sex allowance from her male rivals and that 7lb could make a huge difference on what looks sure to be bottomless ground. This daughter of Astarabad dotted up on her debut for this yard and had a couple of these well behind in an impressive display on soft at Down Royal (2m).

She previously had three runs in France, failing to win but showing some excellent form in finishing less than 2L behind a subsequent Grade 1 winner on her last French start at Auteil (17.5f very soft). That is by far the best form on offer and she could well prove to be a cut above these rivals, especially in receipt of weight. However, she is priced up accordingly at just 4/6 and while she does look the most likely winner there is possibly better value to be found elsewhere.

8. THYWILLBEDONE HENNESSY/MULLINS

Poor flat maiden who has progressed with each outing over timber, culminating in a half length defeat of Newberry New on her last run at Punchestown (2m soft). She meets that rival on identical terms here and yet she is almost double the price. That run was her first time to encounter soft ground, and this daughter of Holy Roman Emperor relished the underfoot conditions.

She did it the hard way too, attempting to make all and finding gamely when challenged and briefly headed by the Harrington horse in the closing stages. She is entitled to uphold the form with that one but whether she is good enough to trouble the best of these is unlikely. Looks set to battle it out for minor honours and if eight go to post she could sneak a place for each way backers at 25/1.

VERDICT

This is an intriguing Grade 3 contest with a number of promising types in the line up. A few will have big concerns about the likely ground conditions and with plenty of rain about it is not going to improve. It will be very testing and they will probably be strung out like the washing by the finish. Thywillbedone appeals as an each way bet at 25/1, if all eight go to post, as she is unexposed on soft and beat Newberry New fair and square last time.

The two to be interested in for the win are Rashaan and Missy Tata. Slight preference is for the former, mostly because of his price of 6/1. There is very little between the two on form if Lake Champlain is used as a yardstick, but I was extremely impressed with how the Kidd horse jumped and travelled in his two victories and he looks to have stamina as well as a decent turn of foot. It won't be easy conceding 7lb to the Elliott filly, but hopefully Fogarty can boot Rashaan home in front and land a blow for a smaller trainer for a change in an Irish Graded race.

STEVOS' SELECTIONS: 1.RASHAAN 6/1 2.MISSY TATA 4/6 3.THYWILLBEDONE 25/1

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