Kidd confident Rashaan will cope with step up in trip
6.40 Down Royal
Kerry Foods Hurdle | 3m½f | 4yo+ | ATR
Colin Kidd's star performer Rashaan returns to the scene of his greatest success on Friday as he attempts a trip further than 2m4f for the first time.
Unbeaten in both starts at Down Royal, including when getting the better of subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner Apple's Jade in the WKD Hurdle last November, the five-year-old looked better than ever when bolting up at Cork two starts ago but didn't appear to relish a return to the Flat at Galway in July.
Rated 146, a mark superior to his five rivals, the gelded son of Manduro must give 5lb to Willie Mullins' Cap D'Aubois who is already proven over 3m and rated 139.
The Ricci-owned French-bred had got off the mark in Ireland on his fourth attempt on his penultimate effort at Tipperary, but was beaten when hampered at the final flight on his most recent outing at Galway.
Dedigout, a classy operator on his day who won the Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle in 2012, makes his first appearance since bursting blood vessels in the Irish Grand National.
Karl Thornton is represented by Wakea, a bold front-runner who blazed the trail in last season's County Hurdle at Cheltenham and steps up markedly in trip, while Patrick Griffin's Heist (due to run at Bellewstown on Thursday evening) and recent Wexford winner I'm An Izz Wizz complete the line-up.
What they say
Colin Kidd, trainer of Rashaan
I'm happy with him, but the big question is whether he'll stay the trip. I'd be fairly confident he will see it out, being such a strong finisher over two and a half miles. He likes Down Royal and if the ground could dry out a little, we'd be even happier.
Karl Thornton, trainer of Wakea
The conditions of the race suited him, so we'll take our chance, but the trip is the big unknown. We feel he'll get further than two miles, but three miles is the question. Hopefully he can post a clear round and we'll know more afterwards.
Willie Mullins, trainer of Cap D'Aubois
He's already won over three miles, so the distance shouldn't prove any problem but it's going to be tough with Rashaan likely being the biggest danger. We're not sure about the ground, but hopefully he'll finish in the money.
Gordon Elliott, trainer of Dedigout
His best days are probably behind him at this stage and he's heading to the Doncaster sales next week, so hopefully he'll run well. He'd probably prefer more of an ease in the ground.