Straightforward success expected from superstar
The Ryanair Hurdle is the feature affair at Leopardstown and we can look forward to a convincing victory
FAUGHEEN is the long odds-on favourite for the affair and will be difficult to beat. Willie Mullins' charge unsurprisingly tops BTO+ ratings by a significant margin and he's expected to win by as many lengths as he likes. The son of Germany landed the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2015 and was well fancied to defend his title a year later before picking up an injury. As a result, the setback kept Faugheen off the track for over 18 months, yetbu\t events have shown he has lost none of his ability. The nine-year-old hacked up on his return in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown last month, thrashing Jezki by 16 lengths. In theory, Faugheen should come on for that effort and improve. The field he faces today is nowhere near the calibre the gelding will come up against at Cheltenham in March, but it's an opportunity for Mullins' charge to make another bold statement. Faugheen also shows a perfect four from four record when running at left-handed tracks.
Mullins also saddles CILOAS EMERY. He's a second season hurdler who has ability but is not of the same calibre of his stablemate. Ciloas Emery was fifth in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Festival in March but came on from that experience to clinch the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival, defeating Melon by a length. The son of Califet was put to the sword by Apple's Jade in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on his seasonal reappearance earlier this month. Nevertheless, that was the first time the five-year-old stepped up to two-and-a-half miles and looked like he didn't get the trip. Ciloas Emery returns to two miles which he should enjoy and jockey Danny Mullins brags a 34% better than expected strike rate at Leopardstown.
MICK JAZZ got the better of Ciloas Emery in a Listed affair at Punchestown last season. However, Gordon Elliott's son of Blue Bresil has failed to score in his subsequent two starts. He was a five-length third to Melon on his seasonal reappearance in the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal last month before only mustering a fifth-place finish in the Hatton Grace where he was behind Ciloas Emery. The five-year-old also returns to the minimum distance where he's produced his best work and Davy Russell shows a 44% better than expected win rate when riding for Elliott on the hurdles course at the track.
CAMPEADOR has trouble negotiating his hurdles given he has fallen in three of his past four starts, including last time out in the Morgiana.
THE GAME CHANGER returns to hurdles but has plenty to find given he's officially rated just 139.