SHAMROCK Sat: Saturday’s seven-race card from Fairyhouse features the Grade 3 Bobbyjo Chase which is often used as a prep for big spring races, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Aintree Grand National.

⭕ The action begins with a Grade 3 juvenile hurdle (1:35pm) over 2m½f. Willie Mullins has chosen this contest to unleash Auteuil Listed hurdle winner Zenta here and it goes without saying that the filly, getting weight from most of her rivals, is worthy of the utmost respect. If looking for a bit more value, John McConnell’s Zefania catches the eye. This filly placed in Group 2 company on the Flat in Italy and ran well in two Group races in France. She looks to have plenty of stamina in her pedigree, and, if taking to hurdles, could be a threat. Joseph O’Brien’s Harley Street is also of strong interest.

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⭕ A 2m½f maiden hurdle (2:10pm) follows, where Margaret Mullins’ John W Creasy catches the eye. This son of Ocavango started out in a bumper at this track last April and ran well to finish fifth behind some smart types, including No Looking Back who has won a Grade 2 over hurdles this season. More recently, he has finished fourth in two point-to-points, latterly when again meeting some potentially useful prospects at Ballycrystal last month. That should assure he’s fit for this contest and he can get the better of Gavin Cromwell’s debutant Dgalwaygallivantor.

⭕ American Mike is the star attraction in the 2m4f handicap hurdle (2:45pm). He’s been disappointing the last two starts in a higher grade and now starts life in handicaps off a mark of 138. That mark might not be easy to defy taking on some improving types such as Colm Murphy’s Cadatharla. One who makes each-way appeal though is L’yser, who was a maiden winner over this course and distance and returned with a good run when sixth here in December. If building on that, he could get involved from an unchanged handicap mark.

⭕ Another 2m4f handicap hurdle (3:20pm) comes up next, and while it looks a weaker contest, finding the winner will be no easier with 25 runners set to take their chance. Given his ability to improve horses it would be no surprise to see Emmet Mullins’ After The Roar take a big step forward, now stepping up in trip on his second handicap start.

⭕ The Grade 3 Bobbyjo Chase (3:55pm) over 3m1½ is the feature on the day, and it looks an intriguing event with Kemboy, Longhouse Poet and Thyestes Chase winner Carefully Selected set to line up. The Aintree Grand National is likely to be the target for many of these. Given Willie Mullins’ exception record in the contest – he has won seven of the last 10 renewals – it’s hard to get away from the claims of Carefully Selected. He may be an 11-year-old, but he’s very lightly raced after only six starts over fences and there could still be a fair bit of improvement left in him. Gordon Elliott’s Pencilfulloflead may get closer to the selection that he managed when five lengths behind him in the Thyestes.

⭕ We remain over 3m1½f for the next race, a rated novice chase (4:30pm). Salmanino was a good winner over 2m6½f at Punchestown in January, when beating a subsequent winner in Rising From Ashes. A winner at 3m over hurdles, this step back up in trip should be no disadvantage to Elisabeth Doyle’s seven-year-old and he can make a quick return to the winners’ enclosure.

⭕ The concluding 2m½f bumper (5:05pm) may be fought out by Willie Mullins’ Mister Pink and Gordon Elliott’s Down Memory Lane. It’s the Cullentra handler that has a better record in this contest in recent years, so his impressive point-to-point winner by Walk In The Park, with Derek O’Connor in the saddle, gets the tentative nod.

THE ULTRA Thurs: Serie A and La Liga Preview
DAQMAN Weds: Goodwood NAP
DAQSTATS Weds: Goodwood NAP
THE ULTRA Weds: La Liga and Serie A Preview
PAT HEALY: Recapping a brilliant week in Listowel
WEEK AHEAD: It’s Ryder Cup week!
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