Dorma bids to hit the right note on hurdles return after Galway heroics
At The Races Handicap Hurdle (Grade B) | 5yo+ | 2m1f | ATR
Willie Mullins' smart Flat stayer Lagostovegas showed her versatility in landing Friday's feature handicap hurdle at Killarney 12 months ago and the champion trainer's Nessun Dorma will bid to do the same this year, having proved himself a capable performer on the flat at Galway earlier this month.
Niall Kennelly's Guinness Handicap winner was raised to a mark of 95 on the Flat following his €100,000 premier success and Ruby Walsh is set to get the leg-up on the 130-rated hurdler, who hasn't managed to get his head in front in his last four hurdles outings since beginning his career with back-to-back victories.
Mullins is also represented by Lareena, the mare who provided Walsh with a comeback winner at Thurles in March, and he said of his pair: "Nessun Dorma is back over hurdles after two wins on the Flat. He came out of his Galway win well and is in good form.
"He'll like the ground and looks to have every chance. Lareena is lower in the weights and has run well over the course in the past. However, she just might prefer a bit further."
Killarney is often a happy hunting ground for in-form trainer Jessica Harrington and she saddles Neverushacon, who got tired in the straight having run respectably in the Galway Plate.
The versatile seven-year-old is rated 14lb lower over hurdles than fences and the Commonstown handler said: "He won around here earlier in the year and returns in great form. We ran him in the Galway Plate last time and it didn't go to plan but we'll take it from there."
Tony Martin's Beau Et Sublime finished down the field in a Galway Flat handicap earlier this month but had previously shaped well in a couple of hurdles starts at Listowel and Down Royal.
The mount of Phillip Enright is 1lb out of the handicap but preparations for this €50,000 prize have gone well according to the eight-year-old's trainer.
"We're happy with him and he ran well on his last couple of hurdles starts," said Martin.
"Things didn't go right for him last time on the Flat at Galway but we have our fingers crossed for a good one here and he won't mind the ground."
Dermot McLoughlin's Dixie Lee was touted by some as a live contender for success at the Galway festival but was withdrawn from that engagement due to the rain-softened ground.
The Ratoath trainer said: "She's in good nick having sidestepped Galway. The track should suit her well and we're expecting a very good run."
Joseph O'Brien is double-handed at both ends of the handicap with top-weight Ivanovich Gorbatov returning from a respectable enough showing in the Galway Hurdle and Hallmark making his first start for almost 300 days.
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