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Trainer quotes to help you unravel a devilishly difficult handicap hurdle

Cool Macavity (pink jacket) on his way to winning at the Punchestown festival
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4.55 Punchestown
Killashee Handicap Hurdle (Grade B) | 2m½f | 4yo+ | RTE2/ ATR

Punters beware: there have been no winning favourites of this race in the last ten years, with Cool Macavity, who struck in 2014, the only horse to win at a single-figure price.

Needless to say, a heavy slice of luck will be required to secure this €60,000 handicap, in which Gordon Elliott, with five representatives, and Willie Mullins, with six, are responsible for 11 of the 25 guaranteed runners.

The Pat Fahy-trained Western Son, who will be bidding to record back-to-back successes in the race but must overcome an absence of 170 days, is one of six runners owned by JP McManus.

The Mullins-trained Low Sun provided Katie O'Farrell with the biggest win of her career in landing a similarly competitive handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse last week and turns out quickly under the 7lb claimer.

Paul Townend has opted to ride Nessun Dorma, a faller in that Fairyhouse contest, while topweight Lagostovegas, Bunk Off Early, True Self and Pietralunga complete the Mullins challenge.

Elliott runs Morgan, Duca De Thaix, Ben Dundee, Veinard and Icario in his attempt to thwart the Mullins team and maintain his advantage in the trainers’ championship.

What they say

Joseph O'Brien, trainer of Tigris River, Ivanovich Gorbatov and Housesofparliament
Tigris River was disappointing at Cheltenham and at Fairyhouse, while Ivanovich Gorbatov was disappointing at Aintree. I'm hoping for better from the two of them on this nicer ground. The ground will also suit Housesofparliament, who is having his first run back since December, and I hope he can run very well. The ground will help all three of ours.

Noel Meade, trainer of Dis Donc and Joey Sasa
Dis Donc is a pretty nice horse and he’s been running very well lately and perhaps deserves a little bit of better luck. The ground will suit and I’m pretty happy with him now – I think he’s in good shape going into the race. It’s a very competitive contest and you’d want a bit of luck in it as well. The other horse, Joey Sasa, is in very good form and the better the ground the better his chance. He’s in good shape.

Gordon Elliott, trainer of Morgan, Duca De Thaix, Ben Dundee, Veinard and Icario
Morgan ran okay at Fairyhouse last time and if everything worked out for him he'd have an each-way chance. Duca De Thaix disappointed on his last two starts. We might ride him a bit handier and see if that helps. Ben Dundee got no run at Cheltenham last time and is better than he ran there. He is a course winner and definitely has a chance. Veinard has plenty of experience and has an outside chance, while we're just hoping Icario runs well.

Steve Mahon, trainer of Carrig Cathal
He always promised to be a good horse and came back to form at Ballinrobe last time, where you could say he finally grew a pair. He seems to have been in good form since but the only worry is that the trip might be a bit on the short side. 

Pat Fahy, trainer of Western Boy
He won the race last year but hasn't run since November and we're hoping we have him in good enough shape to do himself justice. He's in great form and very healthy so we're hoping for a good performance.

Enda Bolger, trainer of Ballyoisin
It's his first run back since December and we're just looking forward to getting out again. We'll see where we go from there.

Follow all the action from Punchestown with our live blog and Raceday Live – available every day of the festival


He always promised to be a good horse and he came back to form at Ballinrobe last time, where you could say he finally grew a pair
E.W. Terms