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12:40 Naas

Run Wild Fred looks the obvious one here, he has a rating of 158 and is a proven and experienced stayer. He looked very good when landing the Troytown and lost little in defeat in a Grade 1 at Christmas. He had ten lengths to spare over the re-opposing Vanillier that day and should confirm that form.

Stattler was twice Grade 1 placed as a novice hurdler and won well on chase debut. He’s undoubtedly got a lot of ability but may just lack enough experience against some of these. Farouk D'alene was just chinned late on in a Limerick Grade 1 over Christmas and is another proven stayer who actually beat Vanillier, over hurdles, and Stattler, in a bumper, in the past.

Willie Mullins is represented by Stratum and En Beton both of whom step up from beginners' company and are likely to improve for the experience.


13:40 Naas

This looks like a somewhat sub-par renewal of the Grade 2 Limestone Lad. The race was used as a stepping stone to Champion Hurdle glory by Espoir D’allen in 2019 but these all look exposed with the exception of Saint Felicien, who’s the mount of the returning Robbie Power. The French-import was a winner at Auteuil on his only French start last March and won eased down at Gowran (the runner-up was Grade 2 placed subsequently). He’s hugely unexposed and could be a live Champion Hurdle contender if he wins here.

The formerly high-class Petit Mouchoir is now 11, was well beaten on Christmas reappearance and connections will be hoping to see encouraging signs prior to another possible crack at the County Hurdle. The final Elliott representative is Felix Desjy who’s ultimately been disappointing and needs the application of first-time cheekpieces to bring about improvement. The top-weight Darasso took the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle earlier in the season and looks the biggest threat to Saint Felicien.

SAINT FELICIEN (WIN) written by Peter Keogh


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