Preview Leopardstown 29th Dec

Fri 28th Dec 2012, 11:20

Flemenstar (Andrew Lynch) winning at Punchestown last time
©Healy Racing Photos

Hurricane Fly bids to muscle his way back to the top of the Champion Hurdle market as he makes his second start of the season in Saturday's Istabraq Festival Hurdle.

Willie Mullins' star numbers the 2010 renewal of this prize among his 12 career Grade One wins and should once again prove too good for stablemate Thousand Stars and last year's victor Unaccompanied, who skipped the Morgiana after coming into season.

Zuzka and Glens Melody represents the champion trainer in the I.T.B.A. Fillies Scheme EBF Mares Hurdle and the four-year-old has bundles of potential judging by her maiden romp at Clonmel.

The Pertemps Handicap Hurdle should throw up plenty of future winners and the field is topped by Catch Me.

He isn't on a bad mark and is likely to appreciate the step back up in distance, but recent Dundalk winner Bombadero is lurking towards the bottom of the weights, while Bat Masterson looks the type to keep a close eye on in handicaps this term.

Action commences with the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase (12.25) and Gordon Elliott will be hoping Tarquinius bounces back having failed to stay the extended three and a half-mile trip at Fairyhouse.

Ruby Walsh gets a rare ride for the Paul Nolan yard on Dick Dundee in the Ryans Cleaning Maiden Hurdle, although the point-to-point winner has his work cut out against Sizing Gold, who was filling the runner-up spot for the second time over timber when following home Don Cossack at Navan.

Hidden Cyclone won the Ballymaloe Country Relish Beginners Chase 12 months ago and connections of Marasonnien will eventually be hoping to scale similar heights with their French import.

However, his jumping will need to be sharper than when beaten at odds-on on his fencing bow.

Mullins will be fancied to round the day off in style as impressive Fairyhouse socrer Outlander lines up for the Thornton's Recycling Flat Race.

Will there be another Irish winner at Aintree?

A lot has been said recently about the fact that the Irish contingent at Cheltenham tend to stoke up the fires of Anglo-Irish needle with their flag waving and chest beating due to our incredible success in recent years. As pointed out previously, this is nothing more than a bit of harmless fun that some folk on both sides of the Irish Sea take a little too seriously.