Irish Daily Star Chase (Grade 3) | 3m1f | ATR
Road To Respect won the Irish Daily Star Chase on his first start last season and it laid the foundations for a fruitful campaign which witnessed him land a first Grade 1 in the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown and finish fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Plan A is to return to Punchestown on Wednesday for the Grade 3 he won so emphatically 12 months ago, but Noel Meade could have to revert to Plan B if rain does not arrive.
Similar comments apply to Meade's recent Kerry National winner Snow Falcon, who would also prefer more juice in the ground and, like Road To Respect, could have to wait for Down Royal early next month.
Their trainer said on Tuesday: "At the moment the ground is too quick for both of them. Hopefully we'll get some overnight rain. If we don't, there's a strong possibility we'll pull them both out.
"Snow Falcon is well in at the weights so we'd like to run him but he needs rain. We have the race for second-season chasers in mind at Down Royal next month.
"Road To Respect would go to Down Royal too for the JNWine.com Champion Chase. I think he's best fresh."
Outlander, Road To Respect's conqueror in that race 12 months ago, is set to make his reappearance at Punchestown and Gordon Elliott reports him in rude health.
"Outlander seems in great form and we'd like him to take his chance," said the trainer. "We'll have to monitor the weather, though, and see what that does."
Gigginstown, who own Road To Respect and Outlander, have won this race six times in seven years, including with Don Cossack in 2015, and Sub Lieutenant completes what could be a three-pronged attack for the maroon and white silks.
Sub Lieutenant was a busy boy at Galway, finishing fifth in the Galway Plate before winning a chase over course and distance four days later.
Willie Mullins has yet to win this Grade 3 and is not overly confident about Ballycasey breaking his duck.
"I worry about Ballycasey getting home over this trip against this sort of opposition," he admitted, adding: "He'll love the ground though."
The six-runner field is completed by Sandymount Duke, who is turned out again quickly having finished down the field in the Irish Cesarewitch at Navan on Sunday.
Mitchouka bids to make amends for late exit
Sizing Europe won the Grade 3 Buck House Novice Chase in 2009 and Henry de Bromhead will be hoping the prolific Ornua can follow in his footsteps, while Classic Theatre also represents the Knockeen trainer.
Perhaps the most interesting runner of all is four-year-old Mitchouka, who jumped beautifully on his chasing debut at Gowran Park before crashing out at the last when having the race at his mercy.
Trainer Gordon Elliott said: "I thought Mitchouka jumped brilliantly at Gowran. It was just one of those things at the last and hopefully it won't have affected his confidence. He seems in good form."
Alelchi Inois did the business for Willie Mullins in 2014 and he puts his faith in Cadmium this time around.
"Cadmium has his chance but he has it all to do to reverse recent form with Ornua," said the trainer.