After a disappointing spell over fences, CITY ISLAND (3.30, treble) can make a spectacular return to hurdles by toppling Paisley Park in today’s Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle. Paisley Park, seeking a second successive victory in this prestigious event and the winner of his last seven races, is a worthy favourite but his achievements have come against moderate performers.
Last season, City Island showed that can scrap with the very best when slamming Champ in the Ballymore Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Champ upheld that form when beating Emitom at Aintree last season.
If Apple’s Jade returns to her best she commands respect but the fact that connections have considered retirement, today’s race suggest this is a final throw of the dice.
Summerville Boy has successfully see-sawed between hurdles and fences but was put in his place by Paisley Park when second behind him at this track in January.
Since City Island last ran he has undergone wind surgery which will add to his chances and is cracking value at 12-1.
Since tackling fences FAUGHEEN (1.30, nb) has found a new lease of life and can make it four on the bounce in the opening Marsh Novices’ Chase.
The winner of the 2015 Champion Hurdle is no spring chicken at the age of 12 but he clearly retains all of his ability and victory for this popular campaigner will bring the house down.
The hugely popular Rachael Blackmore can also enjoy more success with A PLUS TARD (2.50, nap) in the Ryanair Chase. This progressive chaser took a notable scalp in Chancun Pour Soi on his latest outing at Leopardstown in December.
Frodon, last year’s winner who was followed home by Aso, will not go down without a fight but his credentials fall short of the selection.
SIMPLY THE BETTS (4.10) had his credentials enhanced by Imperial Aura’s victory on Tuesday.
He had beaten that rival over today’s course and distance in January.
Winners at this unique track have a habit of repeating that success on their return to the Cotswold venue.
Nicky Henderson, the most successful trainer at the Festival, can enhance his domination at the meeting by taking the Pertemps Hurdle with WELSH SAINT (2.10).
The gelding is creeping up the weights by remains on favourable mark and there was a lot to like about his victory over Silva Eclipse at Haydock last month.
The lightly-raced FULL OF SURPRISES (4.50) can be forgiven for her latest run when down the field at Wetherby but the time before she impressed when slamming Kilconny Bridge, winner of her following three races, at Catterick in December.
JUST A STING (5.30), down the field in last year’s Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase, can make it winning return in this year’s contest.
1.30 Faugheen (nb)
2.10 Welsh Saint
2.50 A Plus Tard (nap)
3.30 City Island (treble)
4.10 Simply The Betts
4.50 Full Of Surprises
5.30 Just A Sting