Three horses will bid to carry JP McManus's colours to victory in the PiersePICTURE: David Dew
Tornado leads Pierse pursuit for McManus
JP McMANUS's bid to win the Pierse Hurdle for the first time at Leopardstown on Sunday will be headed by recent well-backed course winner Dancing Tornado, at least according to bookmakers' opening shows on Tuesday.
McManus, whose New Field and Tony McCoy finished third behind Spring The Que two years ago, has three horses - Dancing Tornado, Alpine Eagle, Wanango - among 37 remaining entries after Tuesday's forfeit stage.
Dancing Tornado was installed a 10-1 chance with Totesport, Boylesports and Victor Chandler, although he was 14-1 with Ladbrokes. Robin Du Bois heads the market at a general 6-1.
The 2m handicap, worth €66,000 to the winner and one of the major betting races of the jumps season, also includes Bolodenka, the sole Britishrepresentative, owned by Dublin businessman Enda Hunston, and trained by Richard Fahey.
"JP hasn't been lucky enough to win this race before but the plan is for all three to run on Sunday and AP [McCoy] will be over to ride one of them," said McManus's racing manager Frank Berry.
"We'll have to see what way the weights pan out later in the week as David [Casey] will probably ride another."
Casey was on board the Michael Hourigan-trained Dancing Tornado when he won over the course and distance on the concluding day of the Christmas meeting, a victory that has resulted in a 4lb penalty for Sunday.
"Dancing Tornado came out of the race last week well, and Michael is happy with him, but I suppose we could have done without any penalty going into a race as competitive as the Pierse, but that's what happens when you win a race these days," said Berry.
He added: "Alpine Eagle was just chinned close home at Limerick the last day and has his chance too, along with Wanango, who seems none the worse for his fall at Cork last month."
The John Murphy-trained Newmill is the highest rated entry, ahead of the Tom Hogan-trained Kirbybroguelantern, who is joined by stable companion Silver Jaro.
Newmill: the highest rated entryPICTURE: Edward Whitaker
A decision on whether to run Newmill under top weight won't be made until later in the week, according to his trainer.
Murphy said: "We are going to take a closer look at the ground later in the week as they say it is yielding, which wouldn't be too bad. We'll leave a final decision until Thursday, when we see how things are shaping up."
In-form Willie Mullins, successful with Adamant Approach in 2002, has four remaining entries, including Imperial Hills, upped 13lb for his recent course and distance win, while Tony Martin, successful with Xenophon in 2003, has Psycho and Mourne Rambler, as well as last-time-out Cork winner Robin Du Bois.
Charles Byrnes, who saddled Dromlease Express to land a sizeable gamble in 2004, could be represented by Carthalawn, while Arthur Moore, who won this race for the first time with Irian in 1979 before dual winner Fredcoteri, Bonalma and Roark all followed in the 1980s, along with Graphic Equaliser in 1998, has Tiger Cry among the contenders.