Willie Mullins won this last year and with eight of the original 18 entries appears determined to complete the double. While City Slicker and Valseur Lido have decent form and should attract support, it's WICKLOW BRAVE who heads the challenge and should come away with the spoils. He was on a six-timer when finding stablemate Vatour too powerful in the Skybet Supreme Novices' Hurdle and this looks a chance for redemption. Double Irish looked a smart prospect when easily landing a maiden over this trip at Leopardstown and didn't appear to stay when sent over an extra mile in a Clonmel Grade 3 next time. Empire Of Dirt finished four lengths behind Real Steel in a Grade 2 at Naas off level weights but has since won a Listed event at the same track. With a 6lb pull, he will be fancied to reverse the form. Quickpic Vic, who started favourite that day, was under pressure when unseating Paul Carberry at the last. Waxies Dargle had finished 21 lengths behind Empire Of Dirt at Punchestown in October but has improved since and did well to beat Daneking here in January.
Real Steel (IRE) 7-1 (11-4) Made all, went on approaching 3 out, reduced lead and strongly pressed 2 out, stayed on well to draw clear run-in, won at Naas 2m nov hdl G2 (1) in Feb beating Vicky De L'oasis (10-10) by 3 1/2l, 6 ran.
City Slicker (IRE) 9-4 (11-7) Held up towards rear, closed into 4th before straight where raced on outer, dropped to rear again and no extra from before last, last of 6, 23l behind Real Steel (11-4) at Naas 2m nov hdl G2 (1) in Feb.
Double Irish (IRE) 4-1 (11-2) Chased leaders, took keen hold, closer in 3rd from 8th, 2nd 4 out, challenged and on terms early straight, soon headed, no extra in 4th when fell last, in a race won by Don Poli (10-13) at Clonmel 3m nov hdl Grd 3 (1) hvy in Feb, 10 ran.
Draycott Place (IRE) 33-1 (11-1) Chased leaders, 4th halfway, ridden in 6th and no impression 2 out, stayed on in 5th last, kept on to 3rd run-in, 3rd of 7, 11l behind Giantofaman (11-3) at Thurles 2m 4f nov hdl Grade 2 (1) hvy in Feb.
Empire Of Dirt (IRE) 5-1 (11-6) Tracked leaders, improved to lead at 4th, ridden from 2 out, strongly pressed after last, stayed on well under pressure close home, won at Naas 2m lst nov hdl (4yo+) (1) in Mar beating The Game Changer (11-9) by 2l, 13 ran.
Quickpick Vic (IRE) 2-1fav (11-6) Mid-division on outer, headway after 4 out, 5th next, ridden and went 2nd briefly 2 out, no impression in 4th when bad mistake and unseated rider at last, in a race won by Empire Of Dirt (11-6) at Naas 2m lst nov hdl (4yo+) (1) in Mar, 13 ran.
Valseur Lido (FR) 16-1 (11-7) Tracked leaders, driven and outpaced after 2 out, ridden and kept on same pace flat, no impression, 10th of 18, 12l behind Vautour (11-7) at Cheltenham 2m nov hdl Grade 1 (1) gs in Mar.
Waxies Dargle 11-1 (11-10) Mid-division on inner, closer in 5th 4 out, headway into 3rd after 3 out, ridden and disputing 2nd 2 out, disputed lead before last, led after last, kept on well under pressure close home, won at Fairyhouse 2m mdn hdl sft in Jan beating Daneking (11-10) by 1 3/4l, 22 ran.
Wicklow Brave 8-1 (11-7) In touch on inside, chased leaders 3 out, effort after next, chased winner approaching last, lost place flat, faded towards finish, 6th of 18, 10l behind Vautour (11-7) at Cheltenham 2m nov hdl Grade 1 (1) gs in Mar.
Kitten Rock (FR) 1-5fav (11-7) Soon disputed lead, led and clear from 5 out, slight mistakes next 2, asserted from before last, stayed on well run-in, easily, won at Limerick 2m 4yo hdl hvy in Mar beating Irish Bulletin (11-0) by 7l, 7 ran.