Getabird out for revenge on Cheltenham rivals Mengli Khan and Paloma Blue
Herald Champion Novice Hurdle | (Grade 1) | 2m 100yds | 5yo + | RTE2/ATR
Getabird, who flopped when favourite for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle last month, renews rivalry with Mengli Khan and Paloma Blue, who finished third and fourth in the Cheltenham Festival's opening contest.
Since meeting with his first and only defeat under rules in the Cheltenham race, Getabird has won a Grade 2 event by 12 lengths at Fairyhouse.
While trainer Willie Mullins has never admitted that going right-handed suits the six-year-old best, this return to Punchestown – where he is two from two over hurdles – is expected to suit.
Mullins said: "Getabird raced too freely at Cheltenham and that accounted for his below-par performance. He was very good at Fairyhouse and he's shown he's very effective at Punchestown. He's in very good form."
Mullins, whose winners of the event include Hurricane Fly, Faugheen and Douvan, and who was successful with Cilaos Emery a year ago, is also represented by Sharjah, Draconien and Whiskey Sour.
Elliott sweet on Mengli Khan
Before going to Cheltenham Mengli Khan was beaten nine lengths by Getabird in a Grade 2 event over this course and distance, but trainer Gordon Elliott, who will be seeking a first win in the race, is hopeful he will finish closer this time.
"I think the drying ground will suit him and he's going there in very good form. It looks very competitive, but we're very happy with him."
Elliott, who is also represented by Hardline and Cartwright, added: "Hardline has been very consistent and always gives his best. He might find one or two too good for him but he's capable of a good run. Cartwright is facing his biggest test and has it all to do."
Hoping Blue is the colour
Third behind Samcro in the Grade 1 Deloitte Hurdle at Leopardstown before finishing fourth at Cheltenham, Paloma Blue, the mount of Davy Russell, represents Henry de Bromhead.
The trainer said: "He ran very well in the Supreme and has been in good form since. We're hoping for another good run."
Tizzard back for more
Vision Des Flos, a bumper winner on the same card a year ago when trained by Robert Tyner, represents Colin Tizzard, who enjoyed a successful festival last year when Fox Norton, Sizing Granite and Sizing Codelco all won for him and the Potts partnership.
Runner-up in the Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree, Vision Des Flos will be attempting to become the first British-trained winner of the race since Young Pokey scored for Oliver Sherwood in 1991.
Tizzard said: "Vision Des Flos ran one of his best races at Aintree and we thought 'why not have another run with him?', as we like taking them to Punchestown.
"He hasn’t had too hard a season. He looked all over a two-miler at Cheltenham and then like a two-and-half miler at Aintree. But I think two miles is probably his optimum trip."
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