Identity Thief on track to tackle Min in Irish Arkle
Min is the standout name among five Willie Mullins entries for the Frank Ward Solicitors Irish Arkle and is no bigger than 4-9 to make it three from three over fences but Henry de Bromhead has issued an upbeat bulletin on Identity Thief, who has been priced up at 4-1 for Sunday's Grade 1 novice chase at Leopardstown.
"Identity Thief schooled earlier this week and I was very happy with him," De Bromhead said of last season's Fighting Fifth Hurdle winner.
Eddie O'Leary, racing manager for Gigginstown, is crossing his fingers in the hope that Identity Thief can show his true colours.
"Identity Thief was badly struck into at Christmas and I just hope he gets his confidence back on Sunday. It was a nasty incident but I hope he's over it now and we'll take our chance and see what happens. He had been very good on his two previous starts over fences," O'Leary said.
Mullins' number one is Min, who is second favourite behind Altior in betting lists for the Racing Post Arkle, but he could also run JLT Novices' Chase hopefuls American Tom, Bleu Et Rouge and Royal Caviar as well as star mare Listen Dear.
The eight entries are completed by Ball D'Arc and Some Plan.
Petit Mouchoir is the biggest threat to 4-7 favourite Faugheen in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle according to Paddy Power, who are shortest about the six-year-old grey at 15-8. Nichols Canyon is next in the betting at 4-1.
"Petit Mouchoir has been great since Christmas and everything has gone well in the build-up to the race. He stepped up on anything he had shown previously to beat Nichols Canyon and I'm hoping he'll be able to step up again, although it won't be easy with Faugheen in there," De Bromhead said.
Along with Faugheen, Mullins also has the option of running Nichols Canyon, Ivan Grozny and Footpad.
The only other potential runner is last year's Triumph Hurdle winner Ivanovich Gorbatov and Joseph O'Brien believes his five-year-old is coming to the boil nicely.
O'Brien said: "Ivanovich has improved with every run so far this season and I think he'll improve again on Sunday. The drying ground will be right up his street and I've been happy with his form at home. It's a tough ask with Faugheen and Petit Mouchoir in there but he goes there in good form and I think he'll run well."
The Grade 2 Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle has attracted a massive 20 entries, most notably leading Neptune Novices' Hurdle fancy Invitation Only.