Henry de Bromhead reports Captain Guinness to be likely to head straight for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle after the five-year-old featured among 86 entries for the curtain raiser at the Cheltenham Festival.
Captain Guinness has had just the two runs, making a winning debut at Navan and then going down narrowly to Andy Dufresne in the Grade Two Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.
De Bromhead said: “Captain Guinness is in good nick and likely to head straight for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
“He ran a cracker to finish second to Andy Dufresne in the Moscow Flyer. It was a huge performance given it was just his second start over hurdles.
“He is a very exciting horse and, although he was entered at Leopardstown, it just seemed a bit too close after Punchestown, so the Supreme is probably next for him.”
Trainer Peter Fahey has this race as the target for Soviet Pimpernel, following a decisive victory in a Grade Three heat at Limerick in December.
“Soviet Pimpernel is very well and we have decided to head straight for the Supreme,” said the County Kildare handler.
“He could have gone to the Dublin Racing Festival, but we are going to keep him fresh and head straight for the Supreme.
“He is a horse we like and hopefully he would have a good chance on his best form. He ran very well at Cheltenham in October before running slightly flat behind Envoi Allen in the Royal Bond.
“It was a good performance at Limerick on testing ground, but better ground in the spring will suit.”
The entries include leading ante-post fancies Shishkin (Nicky Henderson) and Abacadabras (Gordon Elliott) while Willie Mullins floods the list with no less than 25.
Elliott’s unbeaten Envoi Allen heads the market at 13-8 with sponsors Sky Bet, but is more likely to head to the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle for which there were 122 entries.
The home challenge includes Thyme Hill (Philip Hobbs), who continued his unbeaten run over obstacles in Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury last time out, and the Tolworth scorer Fiddlerontheroof (Colin Tizzard).
Envoi Allen’s exciting stablemate Easywork and the JP McManus-owned Chantry House (Nicky Henderson), the winner of a maiden hurdle, are also engaged.
Fury Road, another Elliott inmate, and The Big Breakaway (Colin Tizzard) are among 99 entries for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. Both horses are unbeaten this season.
Aspire Tower, ante-post favourite for the JCB Triumph Hurdle, for which there are 57 entries, is to head for the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday.
Formerly trained on the Flat by Richard Hannon and Steve Gollings, Aspire Tower is unbeaten in two starts for current connections over hurdles.
De Bromhead said: “Aspire Tower is in great form and heads for the Dublin Racing Festival this weekend.
“It was great to get him off the Flat, as he had some nice form, and he was impressive at Leopardstown over Christmas.
“He is a very nice horse and we will see how he gets on this weekend, but the Triumph is obviously a possibility.”
The leading British contender for the Triumph is Allmankind (Dan Skelton), who took his 100 per cent record to three in Chepstow’s Finale Juvenile Hurdle.
Fellow unbeaten hurdler Goshen (Gary Moore), successful in three minor contests by an aggregate of 68 lengths, and impressive Ludlow winner Mick Pastor (Paul Nicholls) are among the other possibles.