Abacadabras set for reappearance at Tipperary on Sunday© Photo Healy Racing
Triple Grade 1 winner Abacadabras looks set to get his season under way against some talented rivals in the Horse & Jockey Hotel Hurdle at Tipperary on Sunday.
The Gordon Elliott trained eight-year-old has been off the track since finishing fifth in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown over three miles last December but is the standout of the nine entrants, as a horse with the Morgiana and Aintree Hurdles on his CV.
“Abacadabras is a classy horse,” said Elliott. “Sunday looked like a good starting point for him. He hasn’t run since Christmas so I’m sure he’d come on for it but he has been in a bit earlier than the other winter horses so he’ll take his chance and see how we get on. He has the option to go chasing this season so we'll see how Sunday goes.
“He’s a Grade 1 horse on his day and he’s only eight so I’d be hoping we can have a bit of fun with him this season.”
Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Anna Bunina (John McConnell) also stands her ground while the Henry de Bromhead-trained Grade 3 winner Jason The Militant could make his first appearance over hurdles since finishing third to Saldier in this contest 12 months ago.
McConnell said of his stable star: “Anna Bunina has a few options but we are considering Tipperary on Sunday. She is rated 140 so she wouldn't be without her chance. We had a great day with her in Killarney last month when (my son) Cillian won on her and she's in good form at the moment.“
Boodles Juvenile Hurdle victor Brazil is doubly-booked by Pádraig Roche but the Grade Fitzgerald’s Woodlands House Novice Hurdle seems a more likely destination for the four-year-old. Potential opposition among the 15 includes Willie Mullins trio Champ Kiely, Champagne Problem and Gaelic Arc. Henry de Bromhead pair Marvel De Cerisy and Rioga Choice are others with winning brackets that could target the prestigious prize.
The in-form The Friday Man is a possible runner for Elliott, having won four times since June, including by nine lengths at Navan 10 days ago.
“The Friday Man has been in great form all summer,” noted the Cullentra House trainer. “He seems to be fairly versatile on the ground but maybe he might want a bit further than two miles as he steps up in grade. He couldn’t have done much more so far, winning his bumper and three times over hurdles.
“We got a great kick out of him winning his bumper at Tramore giving Lisa (O’Neill) her last winner on her last ride.
“It is always a decent race but it might guide us a bit on where he goes for the rest of the season if we do decide to run him.”
Elliott could point Galway Plate fourth, Ash Tree Meadow and Call Me Lyreen at the Grade 3 O’Dwyer Steel Dundrum Novice Chase.
“Ash Tree Meadow had a good summer, winning three on the bounce, and we were delighted with him in the Galway Plate. I don’t think the form of that race was done any harm last week at Listowel so he’s a nice novice hopefully.
“Call Me Lyreen has come out of his fall at Listowel fine and he looked like he was going to run a nice race so we’ll see how he is over the next couple of days and make a plan then.”
Authorized Art, Jon Snow and Rambranlt’jac stand their ground for Willie Mullins, with Francis Casey’s talented chaser Max Flamingo is also a potential runner.