Bolger eyeing another bold show in National from last year's hero Auvergnat
Laurels Pub & Restaurant Killarney National Handicap Chase | 3m2f | 5yo+ | ATR
Enda Bolger has dominated the Killarney National of late, winning the last two with Cantlow (2016) and Auvergnat, and last year's winner returns to defend his crown on the back of a success in the La Touche Cup at Punchestown.
Auvergnat arrived at Killarney 12 months ago as an unexposed 118-rated chaser. He was supported into 2-1 favourite and obliged in great style under Mark Walsh.
He is a year older and 12lb higher in the handicap but, with the classy Sandymount Duke taking his chance, he carries 7lb less with Luke Dempsey getting the call-up for the first time.
Not only does Bolger have an impressive record in this race but he has a fine success rate at the track too, sending out five winners from just 20 runners at the venue in this last five years.
Bolger said: "Auvergnat lugged 12st 2lb around Punchestown in the La Touche so he'll feel like he's running free with just 9st 12lb here. He won last year and seems to like Killarney.
"The ground will suit and I'm hoping for a good run. He's been in great form since Punchestown."
Sandymount's fine track record
Sandymount Duke knows his way around Killarney. This is his fifth visit to Ireland's most picturesque track and he has always enjoyed the scenery with form figures of 5212.
The Galway Plate fifth found the company too hot to handle in the Punchestown Gold Cup when only tenth, but this is a welcome drop in class for the prominent racer who will relish conditions.
Jessica Harrington is also represented by A Sizing Network, who warmed up for the test with an encouraging fourth in a hot novice handicap chase at Punchestown last month.
Harrington said: "Sandymount Duke seems in great form. He has top weight but is a high-class horse and will enjoy the ground. We're hoping for a lovely run.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing how A Sizing Network gets on. He ran well at Punchestown, will like the ground and has got such a lovely, light weight, so you'd have to be quite hopeful."
Is Mullins the key to Some Neck?
David Mullins has ridden Some Neck only once and that ended in victory as the pair teamed up to land a beginners' chase at Gowran Park in February by six lengths.
Since then the imposing grey has been dogged by jumping problems, but could Mullins' return to the saddle coincide with a return to form for the seven-year-old?
Willie Mullins also runs Augustin, who was pulled up when last seen at Punchestown last month.
Mullins said: "Some Neck hasn't jumped well on his last couple of runs. He needs to brush up on that department if he's to have a chance. I think he'll like the trip and ground, so if his jumping is better he could go very well.
"Augustin has a nice racing weight and we hope he'll appreciate this ground. The trip should be right up his street."
Time for another vintage Champagne performance?
Champagne West was one of the most impressive recent winners of the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park when scoring by a wide-margin off a mark of 154 last year. He is now running off a mark 1lb lower. Could it spark a revival?
The ten-year-old, who contested the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup, ran well for a long way at Punchestown last time so it could be dangerous to underestimate him with Andrew Lynch back in the saddle.