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Cheltenham: Here’s a Sol-id choice

Solwhit is one of the major Irish fancies for Cheltenham’s Champion Hurdle next March and should make a winning seasonal debut in the Dobbins & Madigans Hurdle at Punchestown tomorrow.

Trained by Charles Byrnes, Solwhit won this race last year when known as the Morgianna Hurdle and he went on to success in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown and also previously took the December Hurdle at the same track.

The wheels came off later in the season at Cheltenham and he has not run since, finishing second at the Punchestown Festival last April.

He comes up against Voler La Vedette who won the big hurdle race at Down Royal last November for trainer Colm Murphy before running into injury problems.

Voler La Vedette won his most recent race and so is in form as is Donnas Palm, a winner first time out for Noel Meade.

In addition, former Champion Hurdle winner Sublimity who has changed stables, is also in the line-up and must have a chance under Andrew McNamara. But Solwhit is the one they all have to beat.

The Craddockstown Novice Chase — a Grade 2 affair — can go to Meade’s Darceys Dancer, although Jigalo who was third for Joanna Morgan at Down Royal last weekend, must have a decent chance.

Erritt Lake, a winner last time out for Dessie Hughes, should take the Florida Pearl Novice Chase, a Grade 3 race.

Oscars Wells is given a confident vote in the Maiden Hurdle as trainer Jessica Harrington is in tremendous form following her treble at Down Royal.

At Punchestown today, the big race is the Risk of Thunder Chase named after a hunter chaser owned by Sean Connery and should go to Enda Bolger who has three in the race.

Favourite will be last year’s winner L’Ami while the trainer also has Chance Your Arm and Kings Johns Castle taking their chances.

Magnanimity is the choice for Dessie Hughes and Davy Russell in the Beginners’ Chase.

Meanwhile, Forpadydeplasterer returns to the scene of his finest hour to contest a fascinating renewal of the Sinbad Testimonial 2010/2011 Chase at Cheltenham tomorrow.

His enthusiastic owners — the Goat Racing Syndicate — brought the house down when the eight-year-old claimed the Arkle Trophy back in 2009, but he has finished second on his six subsequent starts.

Trainer Tom Cooper is eyeing a step up to three miles in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, but sees this weekend's two-mile contest as the ideal starting point.

“He had a good summer off, all has gone well with him since he came back and I am very happy with him,” said the County Kerry handler.

“This is a nice race to start him off in. He goes there without a penalty.”

Belfast Telegraph


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