INISH ISLAND was making his debut for Willie Mullins when landing a Downpatrick maiden in November and can hardly be faulted for his narrow defeat by At Fishers Cross at Cheltenham a month later as the winner was in the middle of completing a hat-trick which has included a Grade 2. He's taken to get back to winning ways in a strong line-up that includes Shrapnel, whose hat-trick bid was only just thwarted by the promising Si C'Etait Vrai at Punchestown. Venture Capital battled on well against the Grand National hope Prince De Beauchene at Limerick when the remainder, including Dushybeag, were in another parish. The chaser Quarryvale has only run once over hurdles and along with Whispering Hills doesn't look good enough.
Maggio (FR) 5-4fav (11-6) In touch and in rear, headway 7th, ridden to chase winner 2 out, every chance after last, not quicken, 2nd of 4, 2 1/4l behind Green Flag (11-3) at Newcastle 2m 6f nh nov hdl (2) hvy in Dec.
Shrapnel (IRE) 5-4fav (11-10) Tracked leader in 2nd, ridden entering straight and no impression on winner approaching last, kept on same pace under pressure run-in, 2nd of 4, 2 1/4l behind Si C'etait Vrai (11-6) at Punchestown 2m 4f hdl hvy in Jan.
Whispering Hills (IRE) 9-1 (11-9) Soon led and disputed, in front before straight and soon attempted to assert, joined approaching last, soon headed and no extra in 3rd, kept on same pace, 3rd of 11, 2 3/4l behind Fahamore (11-2) at Fairyhouse 2m 4f hdl hvy in Jan.
Dushybeag (IRE) 6-1 (11-6) Led and disputed, 3rd after 5th, soon 4th, ridden after 3 out, moderate 3rd and no impression approaching straight, kept on same pace, 3rd of 6, 50l behind Prince De Beauchene (11-11) at Limerick 2m 3f hdl hvy in Dec.
Inish Island (IRE) 3-1 (10-9) Held up mid-division, headway 2 out, came towards stands side rail before last, soon every chance, ridden and stayed on to press winner flat, 2nd of 12, 1 1/2l behind At Fishers Cross (10-12) at Cheltenham 3m hcp hdl (2) hvy in Dec.
Venture Capital (IRE) 9-4fav (11-11) Waited with, closer order from before 6 out, 2nd after 3 out, ridden to challenge straight, no chance with comfortable winner and kept on same pace run-in, 2nd of 6, 3 1/2l behind Prince De Beauchene (11-11) at Limerick 2m 3f hdl hvy in Dec.
Quarryvale (IRE) 9-2 (10-12) Led, headed from 5th, prominent until no extra and pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by Jack Absolute (11-0) at Limerick 2m 3f hcp chs 0-145 hvy in Dec, 13 ran.