Cheltenham Festival hero Minella Indo bids for another Grade One victory in the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle at Punchestown on Wednesday.
Henry de Bromhead’s charge was a shock 50-1 winner of the Albert Bartlett at Prestbury Park and bids to confirm his superiority over Gordon Elliott’s runner-up Commander Of Fleet and the third home Allaho, trained by Willie Mullins.
Elliott also saddles Defi Bleu, while Allaho spearheads a four-strong Mullins team which also includes Carefully Selected.
The latter was second in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham and third in the corresponding race at Punchestown last season, but has run just once over hurdles – winning at Limerick in mid-March.
Mullins’ assistant, David Casey, said: “Allaho ran very well in Cheltenham, but was just a little bit raw. We think he’ll improve plenty for that and we think he’s a very good horse going forward – he should make a very good chaser.
“Carefully Selected hasn’t run much this season as we’ve been waiting on softer ground. He won his maiden hurdle and deserves his chance.
“He was a top-class bumper horse last season and ran well in the Champion Bumper in Punchestown.
“It looks a tough race, but hopefully we’ve got a strong enough hand.”
Castlebawn West and the only mare in the field, Salsaretta, complete the Closutton quartet.
John McConnell is looking forward to saddling recent Perth victor Go Another One, with Britain’s champion jockey Richard Johnson taking the ride.
“I think he is entitled to have a crack at this sort of race. He won very well at Perth and he has come out of that race well,” said McConnell.
“It will be a big ask for him, but he’s not that far off on ratings and it would be a dream come true for me to have a winner like this at the Punchestown Festival.
“I went to school in Naas and used to get half days off school to go to Punchestown, so it’s great to go there with a horse running in a Grade One.”