Powerful Pyro will take crown off the Prince
A year after clinging on to fend off Shanpallas, the redoubtable Prince Rudi shoulders top-weight in another competitive edition of the €80,000 Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle at the Galway Festival.
Stephen Nolan's versatile 13-year-old is a half-brother to the high-class chaser Bradbury Star, which famously won two Mackeson Gold Cups at Cheltenham for Josh Gifford in 1993 and 1994.
Bradbury Star remains the last horse to win back-to-back editions of what is now the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
No horse has managed to win successive renewals of this afternoon's competitive two-miler in the same time span.
As such, Prince Rudi would go some way to emulating his more distinguished sibling were he to prevail again on just his second visit to Ballybrit under seven-pound claimer Andrew Ring. But Pyromaniac is the one to be on.
In his debrief after dominating Thursday's Galway Hurdle, Tony Martin was asked how Pyromaniac might have fared had he made the cut.
With a knowing smile, Martin suggested that the five-year-old would have been thereabouts as well.
Pyromaniac instead goes in search of consolation now, with Denis O'Regan, so composed aboard Quick Jack two days ago, booked to steer this time.
A field of 20 will go to post, with Willie Mullins's Wood Breizh sneaking in at the bottom off just 10st 9lb following his third in Monday's feature event. With Ruby Walsh up, he is sure to have a big say.
The champion trainer's brothers Tom and Tony are responsible for progressive last-time-out winners Some Article and Erlkonig, while Barry Geraghty is aboard the English raider Cantlow.
Later on, Denis Hogan's game Bribe The Bouncer contests the seven-furlong handicap under Connor King.
A last-gasp Ballybrit winner on Wednesday, Bribe The Bouncer carries a five-pound penalty and faces 15 rivals, so this is sure to be another thorough test. He will be in his element.
Royal Ascot hero Clondaw Warrior starred on the fifth day of the Festival, bursting clear to take the valuable Guinness Handicap and earn a tilt at the Ebor at York.
Successful in the two-and-a-half-mile Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting under Ryan Moore, the Willie Mullins-trained eight-year-old dropped back a mile in trip and was produced to perfection by rising star Jack Kennedy.
Mullins said: "He's improving all the time, the plan was the Galway Hurdle, but he wasn't good enough to get in on ratings this year.
"When I looked at this race I thought for the money it wasn't really sharp, we had a good apprentice in Jack on his first ride for me and he was very good on him.
"He sat and waited for the race to unfold and when it did the horse had the gears."
Mullins added: "I'd imagine he'll probably go for the Ebor if he gets in, if I can just freshen him up again that will be the plan. It's a lovely prize."
The Galway Festival concludes tomorrow.