Tony McCoy's Kerry National bid on Alderwood faces tough opposition
Tony McCoy will ride Tom Mullins' dual Cheltenham Festival hero – and top weight – Alderwood in a highly competitive edition of the Guinness Kerry National at Listowel today.
The 10-year-old, last seen getting brought down in the Galway Plate, is one of five that will represent owner JP McManus, whose Lucinda Russell-trained Tap Night is the sole cross-channel raider.
Of the quintet, Jacksonslady might be best-equipped to plunder the lion's share of the €160,000 spoils.
Barry Geraghty got a great tune out of Philip Dempsey's mare when foiling Cailin Annamh in a driving finish at Ballybrit. She gets in here off a lovely racing weight of 10st 8lb, with the chief concern being the three-mile trip.
Jacksonslady has never shown her best over this far, including when well beaten in this 12 months ago off a three-pound higher mark.
Goresbridge-based Mullins has a second live contender in the Paul Townend-ridden Klepht, a winner over hurdles at Killarney last time that might not be ideally suited by ground that will ride on the quick side.
Last year's successful trainer Dessie Hughes relies on Golden Wonder.
The Irish Grand National runner-up is no forlorn hope off a six-pound higher mark than he ran off at Fairyhouse as he will relish this return to a longer trip.
Others that must enter calculations are Burn And Turn and Usuel Smurfer.
John 'Shark' Hanlon's Usuel Smurfer has been competing consistently well at a lower level, while Burn And Turn continues to progress nicely over fences for trainer Jessica Harrington.
Burn And Turn emerged with great credit when second to Road To Riches under Robbie Power in the Plate, so must have a chance of getting involved off a three-pound higher figure, 10st 11lb.
Of the 18 runners, Pass The Hat may be the one to keep on side. Arthur Moore's seven-year-old is another that hasn't won over the trip, but he has only run once over it, and wasn't beaten for stamina when sixth in the Troytown Chase last November.
Pass The Hat has continued to improve, landing the Carrickmines Chase at Leopardstown in March off 119. He has had two outings over fences since then off 127, finishing third behind Orpheus Valley in another good race at Punchestown before staying on strongly to see off Nearly Nama'd over two miles and five furlongs at Killarney.
Pass The Hat would need to build on that to be left sporting Moore's big-race trilby in celebration here, but David Casey's mount still has the scope to do so.
Hughes' only other runner on the card is Icy Reply in the novices hurdle. The Hernando filly has now won three of her last four, getting up at Navan 11 days ago.
Icy Reply is nine pounds worse off with Desertmore Stream than she was when he emerged on top at Galway previously.
Philip Fenton's charge then slammed Golden Wonder at Kilbeggan last time. This won't be as easy but he and Brian O'Connell are fancied to have enough.
The day's nap is the Paul Carberry-ridden Tom's Article in the maiden hurdle.
Popular Monaghan-based trainer Oliver Brady has died at the age of 75 following a long battle with cancer.
Brady was reknowned for his celebrations in the winner's enclosure, when he would often make a speech and lead a sing-song.
His best horses included Maralan and Ebadiyan.
Top jockey Barry Geraghty led the tributes: "Very sad news about Oliver Brady, a great character and a very charitable man."