'Improving' Nichols Canyon checks in for Ryanair at Leopardstown
Nichols Canyon has big boots to fill ahead of his run in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown on Tuesday.
His now-retired former stablemate Hurricane Fly won four of the last five renewals of the Grade One among his incredible haul of top-level races but a new name will be etched on the trophy.
Despite only being five, Nichols Canyon has already proved himself as a hurdler out of the top drawer.
However, the Graham Wylie-owned gelding took his form to another level first time out this season when he defeated Champion Hurdle hero Faugheen in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.
"Nichols Canyon is improving all the time, he could be anything yet," said trainer Willie Mullins.
"He's got some great qualities - the way he jumps and battles - and his attitude in a race is very good. If we can keep him healthy, he's a horse with a lot of ability."
Windsor Park is a typical Dermot Weld jumper in that he also runs on the Flat to good effect.
Since winning the Neptune Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham, he struck on the level at Galway but was well beaten in a premier handicap at Leopardstown.
Davy Russell maintains the partnership over jumps and said: "I'm looking forward to the ride. The ground is far from ideal for him but he needs to get out."
Also in the line-up are Aidan O'Brien's Plinth and Henry de Bromhead's Fighting Fifth winner Identity Thief.