McManus three-handed in bid to repeat last year's win
I.N.H Stallion Owners EBF Novice Handicap Hurdle Series Final | 5yo+ | 3m | ATR
Coney Island, who went on to Grade 1 success over fences this season, won this event for JP McManus a year ago and the owner has a team of three in today's renewal – the Gordon Elliott-trained Sire Du Berlais, who will be having his second start in Ireland, the Noel Meade-trained Stretchingthetruth and Mon Lino, an improving five-year-old.
Barry Geraghty partners Sire Du Berlais, a winner in France who ran third on his Irish debut at Punchestown in February, who faces a big step up in trip today.
Elliott is also represented by Sutton Manor, who finished fifth in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham last month, and Woods Well who has been twice placed over the distance since winning a 2m4f maiden hurdle over today's course in January.
Willie Mullins, Elliott's pursuer in the race for the trainer's championship, is also three-handed with Ruby Walsh partnering Bargy Lady who will be tackling the trip for the first time following an eight-length win in a 2m maiden at Leopardstown. Screaming Rose and Augustin complete the Mullins trio.
Noel Meade's team is in good form and his number one string looks to be the dual-purpose She's A Star, a three-time winner this season who returns from a break.
What they say
Willie Mullins, trainer of Bargy Lady, Screaming Rose and Augustin
Bargy Lady is going up a lot in distance but she's in good form and should appreciate her low weight compared to what she's had to carry in maidens. Augustin will relish the trip and once they keep up the watering he should go well. Screaming Rose will like the trip but she wasn't at her best on her last few starts, so she'll need to improve.
Gordon Elliott, trainer of Sutton Manor, Sire Du Berlais and Woods Well
Sutton Manor ran very well at Cheltenham. He's got a lot of weight but he's in good form. Sire Du Berlais is in good order but he's taking a big step up in distance, so we'll have to see how that works out. Woods Well is in very good nick and will love the trip and the ground.
Noel Meade, trainer of Bel Ami De Sivola, She's A Star and Stretchingthetruth
She's A Star is bred to get the trip and I think the better ground will help her, Bel Ami De Sivola ran badly for some reason at Aintree –maybe he ran too freely. He's been in good form since he came home and he should like the ground. Stretchingthetruth has been disappointing so far but we're happy enough with him and I think the trip might help him.
Jessica Harrington, trainer of Billy's Hope and New To This Town
They are handicapped to what they are but they are in good form and I think the better ground will suit them. Billy's Hope has won over just short of the distance and we think both of them will stay.
Denise Marie O'Shea, trainer of Supreme Vinnie
He's in good form but he lacks a recent run. We're hoping he goes well but we'd expect him to improve from the run.
Paul Nolan, trainer of Mon Lino
He got his maiden win out of the way last time and is in good form. We think the trip won't be a problem but a lot will depend on how he handles the better ground which he hasn't raced on before.
Pat Fahy, trainer of The Green Lady
She seems in good form and although I'm not sure, I think the better ground will suit. We're going to drop her in as it is her first time over the trip.