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Racecard & Form + Timeform
A high-class renewal and marginal preference is for an Irish raider, but probably not the one that most would think. SALDIER, the mount of 2016 Grand National-winning jockey David Mullins, was all the rage heading into his hurdles debut at Gowran Park and certainly didn't disappoint, beating his closest rival by an impressive 10-length margin. He showed an ability to power through bottomless ground that day and, although he lacks hurdling experience, he should be streetwise enough having had plenty of runs on the Flat in France. His stable have two other strong chances with runaway Fairyhouse scorer Stormy Ireland and Grade 1 winner Mr Adjudicator, but home challenger Apple's Shakira rates the biggest threat. Nicky Henderson's filly has won all three hurdle starts at this track, loves soft conditions and won't give up her unbeaten record without a fight. Redicean and Farclas, who wears a first-time tongue-tie, add further spice to the contest.
This looks a cracking renewal with a whole host arriving with unbeaten records to protect. Chief amongst them, APPLE'S SHAKIRA has landed 3 small-field contests, latterly the Triumph Hurdle Trial, but there has been plenty to like about the manner of her victories and she can come out on top with further progress anticipated. Adonis-winner Redicean is feared though, along with Stormy Ireland.