Zaid set to pour it on in Bond
Willie Mullins is confident the drop in trip will not prove a problem for Zaidpour when he steps up to Grade One company for the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
The champion trainer has never made any secret of the regard in which he holds the four-year-old and while he missed a juvenile hurdle campaign through injury, he was a brilliant winner on his recent hurdling debut. Mullins admits the recent cold snap has held his string up slightly, but he is still hopeful Zaidpour can make his presence felt.
"I suppose everything has been held up a bit by the weather, but I think we're getting as much done as anybody," said Mullins.
"We're just happy to be racing at this stage and Zaidpour seems in good form. I'm hoping the experience of that first run at Punchestown will have improved him.
"He's dropping back to two miles from two-and-a-half but he has good Flat form over a mile, so I would hope he'll be able to cope with it."
Noel Meade saddles Perfect Smile, who opened his hurdling account at the fourth attempt at Punchestown in October.
"He wouldn't like very heavy ground, but it shouldn't be too bad at Fairyhouse and he's in good form," said Meade.
"He was a bit unfortunate once or twice last season, but he was good the last day and he's ready to take his chance."
Just six rivals go to post, with Tom Cooper saddling The Shepherd King, who made a winning hurdling debut at Galway recently. Paul Nolan runs Carloswayback and Philip Fenton is represented by course and distance winner Pineau De Re.
Mount Helicon completes the select field.