SHAMROCK Thurs: We’re looking over to Leopardstown this Thursday, where the seven-race card includes a Grade 3 Mares’ Hurdle, the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase and the Grade 1 Matheson Hurdle, the feature race of the afternoon.

⭕ Thursday’s action kicks off at 12:00pm with a Handicap Chase over 2m5f. Though lowly in the ratings compared TO some of the other 18 runners at 105, Arctic Ambition may be able to looks to have each-way claims after a win over 2m6f in November. Rider Niall Moore takes off a valuable 4lb and that will help him remain competitive. Marshalled could take some beating under 4lb claimer Aidan Kelly after a close second under the same jockey in October and an unfortunate unseating (when looking promising) four weeks ago. The pair can bounce back amends for that.

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⭕ Next is a maiden hurdle over 2m4f (12:35pm), in which Gordon Elliott’s Search For Glory looks primed to build on both a Point-to-Point and a recent bumper win. With Jack Kennedy aboard, and with Elliott’s stable in as good form as ever, everything looks set for a big run on his hurdles debut.

⭕ Following that is the Grade 3 Mares’ Hurdles over 2m4f (1:10pm). The six runners make for a competitive field, but Gordon Elliott’s Queens Brook looks like she’ll take plenty of beating. A six-length Listed win at Punchestown last month and a close second to Marie’s Rock at the Cheltenham Festival in March is the strongest form on offer here and she looks the likeliest winner on paper.

⭕ The fourth race is the first of two Grade 1s: the Neville Hotels Novice Chase over 3 miles (1:45pm). Willie Mullins’ Gaillard Du Mesnil has been ultra-consistent without getting his head in front of late, placing in all of his last six starts, but if he reproduces his second to Mighty Potter in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase (his first season appearance) earlier this month then he’ll be tough to beat. Frontal Assault, another from Elliott’s stable, has each-way claims having had a decent run over this distance in November, staying on to finish 5th of 18 in the Troytown.

⭕ The Grade 1 Matheson Hurdle is next at 2:20pm, with a field of just five going over two miles. Willie Mullins is responsible for three of the five, including course and distance winner Vauban, who’s making his much-anticipated seasonal reappearance under Danny Mullins. Although excellent, he would become the first four-year-old winner of this race in 10 years. Stablemate State Man is likely to go off a short price, but he has every reason to do so after winning the Morgiana Hurdle in November. State Man to win and Vauban each-way could be the way to go.

⭕ The penultimate race of the afternoon is a Novice Handicap Hurdle over 2m4f (2:55pm), with a healthy sized field of fifteen. Typical Thomas should appreciate the step up in trip here after two good second place finishes in October. With Aidan Kelly’s taking off a valuable 7lbs, he is capable of getting amongst the places again.

⭕ Finally, we have a bumper over two miles (3:25pm). Son of Walk In The Park Fascile Mode makes his racecourse debut and could be a player in the hands of 7lb claiming amateur Charlie Mullins, but is unlikely to beat last-time-out seven-length winner Caldwell Potter. Fascile Mode each-way, Caldwell Potter to win looks the way to go.

DAQMAN Weds: Kempton NAP
DAQSTATS Weds: Kempton NAP
THE STRIKER Weds: Sunderland v Fulham (FA Cup)
THE EDGE Thurs: India v Australia 1st Test
PAT HEALY blog: The Perfect Festival!
THE WEEK AHEAD: Super Bowl week !!
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