Ivanovich Gorbatov (left) winning at Fairyhouse
© Photo Healy Racing
Ivanovich Gorbatov returned to form in style at Fairyhouse, but has to defy a 9lb penalty in the Ballymore Handicap Hurdle at Punchestown on Saturday.
Joseph O’Brien’s charge ended a long losing streak, since his success in the Triumph Hurdle at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival, when bounding clear of his 15 rivals with Tudor City back in second place 10 days ago.
He is sure to make his presence felt again on Saturday, despite the extra weight he has to carry.
O’Brien has a decent second string to his bow in Landofhopeandglor,y who won for the first time 1i 18 months when landing a five-runner event at Cork in March.
A full field of 25 includes old favourites such as Swamp Fox, Golden Spear and Jessica Harrington’s Jezki, who lowered the colours of the great Hurricane Fly in Punchestown’s Champion Hurdle in 2014.
The weights are headed by Mr Adjudicator, one of nine in the line-up from the Willie Mullins stable.
Three British raiders — Don Poli, Minella Awards and Regal Encore — head the weights for the BoyleSports Handicap Chase, which also features last year’s winner Wounded Warrior.
Harry Fry, who struck with Unowhatimeanharry in the Champion Stayers’ Hurdle on Thursday, not only runs Minella Awards but has Acting Lass and Onefortheroadtom in the Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase.
Heron Heights, last year’s winner, goes again for Henry de Bromhead — who also has Full Cry in the 11-runner field.
Josies Orders bids to repeat his 2018 victory in the Dooley Insurance Cross Country Chase — just two days after finishing third to Ballyboker Bridge in the La Touche Cup.
The 11-year-old, trained by Enda Bolger, is accompanied by stablemate Blue Templar — a winner at this meeting on Tuesday — with eight others going to post in the banks race.