Meade glory chase
The enduring alliance of Noel Meade and Paul Carberry, who are enjoying a welcome revival in their fortunes this season, should take centre stage again at Punchestown this afternoon when the Go Racing In Kildare Hurdle is the chief sufferer ground-wise.
It must be some time since the advance going was good to firm, good in places for a jumping fixture towards the end of October at the Kildare course, but there should be a degree of ease overnight with some heavy showers forecast.
That situation would probably result in the surface riding good all round by early afternoon and this would be welcomed by connections of many of the runners that survived, including Meade's decent earner Aitmatov, which has a mere three rivals in the all-aged hurdle.
Having made better-fancied stable companion Donnas Palm work for victory at Tipperary earlier this month, Carberry's mount will be at short odds to get back on the winning trail now despite the prospect of a tactical affair involving Leblon and Jigalo.
The preceding Dobbins Catering Maiden Hurdle likewise has all the hallmarks of a Meade-Carberry dominance. Perfect Smile is back in action for the first time since a final-flight casualty in a much better race won by Blackstairmountain over this route last January.
The losses incurred by Perfect Smile's connections and backers on that occasion should be recouped to some degree today as the favourite looks to have too many gears over the minimum trip for the likes of Crom Abu, Monroe Park and Ross Na Righ.
Indeed, the Tote Sports Lounge Novice Hurdle might have Carberry's name on it as well as he partners the Roche family's Island Oscar, most recently a winner under Tony McCoy at Ffos Las and renewing rivalry here with his Killarney summer victim Far Away So Close.
In addition to this pair, joint top weight Hazeymm and the often-placed Baracas are rated to finish together so it could be quite a difficult initial leg of the Jackpot to solve. Unless there is a dramatic change in the terrain, Island Oscar could be the one to fit the bill.
The Meade yard have yet another contender with appealing prospects on the form book as Mickelson and Nina Carberry bid to improve in the finale on their neck defeat by Bullock Harbour at this venue last May.
Meanwhile, Richard Hughes revived his hopes of catching Paul Hanagan in the race for the jockeys' championship with a near-22-1 treble at Leicester.
The Irish pilot cut the northern-based rider's lead down to eight (179-171) thanks to his trio of winning favourites, all trained by Mick Channon.
Hughes had to work hard for his first of the day aboard Jinky in the EBF Fosse Way Maiden Stakes.
Hughes enjoyed an easier success on 2-1 favourite Show Rainbow in the Hoby Median Auction Maiden Fillies' Stakes. It was a similar story in division two of the Haymarket Nursery as Hughes triumphed on 3-1 jolly Barista.