Time has proved that being beaten by Laurina is nothing to be ashamed of, but Ray Hackett is convinced Crackerdancer didn’t run up to scratch against Willie Mullins’ ace at Fairyhouse last time.
He is hoping for a return to form from his star mare in the Grade 3 mares’ novice hurdle at the rescheduled Limerick meeting on Wednesday.
A winner of three bumpers, including a Listed contest at Navan, Crackerdancer bolted up on her hurdling debut at the track over Christmas before falling when it looked as though she was well beaten at the time behind Laurina on her latest start.
Although he doesn’t believe Crackerdancer would have beaten Laurina at Fairyhouse, Hackett has reason to think his eight-year-old would have finished closer to the subsequent Cheltenham Festival heroine.
He explained: “She came home from Fairyhouse and wasn’t herself at all so we scoped her and it turned out she had a very bad lung infection.
“You never want to see them run like that, but at least there was a reason for it. I’m not saying we'd have beaten the winner on the day but she didn’t run her race anyway.”
Crackerdancer will be ridden in public for the first time by Barry John Foley, but he knows the mare well.
“Barry John rides out for me a lot," said Hackett. "He takes the ride on her for the first time but he’s ridden her at home plenty of times.”
He added: “She was an impressive winner at the track over Christmas and hopefully can bounce back, although it’s a tough race. She’ll love the ground, so that’s not a worry at all.”
The Gordon Elliott-trained Lackaneen Leader, who finished 25 lengths behind Crackerdancer at the track over Christmas before going on to win her two subsequent starts, seeks revenge, while Alletrix, trained by Jessica Harrington and second at Listed level last time, also holds an obvious chance.
Dinaria out to dazzle in the testing conditions
Dinaria Des Obeaux has produced her best form when the mud is flying and should get her favoured testing conditions at Limerick on Wednesday, which ought to make her very hard to beat in the Grade 2 Chase.
Trained by Gordon Elliott, the Gigginstown-owned mare is rated 5lb better than her nearest rival Youcantcallherthat, whom she beat comfortably two starts back at Thurles, and the pair go toe-to-toe off level weights this time.
She also holds another one of her rivals, Kate Appleby Shoes, strictly on that Thurles performance, although that Willie Mullins-trained challenger also revels in these conditions. She will, however, need to jump better to raise a serious challenge.
The five-runner field is completed by the Pat Fahy-trained Head Turner and the Robert Tyner-trained West Bridge.