Willie Mullins will be hoping for a winning start to a brilliant day's racing with either Blood Cotil or DIAKALI and preference is for the latter. Not surprisingly, most of these are in the Triumph Hurdle and the Mullins pair are at the head of the betting. The selection began his hurdling career with a facile success at Gowran before making all and slamming today's rival Flaxen Flare by 28 lengths at Punchestown. Blood Cotil has done everything right so far though his defeat of Stocktons Wings here on St Stephen's Day is only the same form as Our Conor's success over the runner-up at Fairyhouse. John Ferguson has a magnificent strike-rate and wouldn't be sending Finale Hurdle winner Ruacana from the UK without good reason though this is by far his stiffest test to date. The remainder have a bit to find in what should prove a very informative contest.
Blood Cotil (FR) 4-9fav (10-12) Tracked leaders in moderate 3rd, took closer order 2 out, led narrowly approaching last, ran on well flat, comfortably, won at Leopardstown 2m 3yo hdl Grd 2 (1) sft in Dec beating Stocktons Wing (10-12) by 3l, 7 ran.
Dalasiri (IRE) 3-1 (11-0) Led, pushed along when not fluent 2 out and soon headed, kept on under pressure and rallied well run-in, just failed, 2nd of 5, hd behind Dogora (11-0) at Gowran Park 2m 4yo hdl hvy in Jan.
Diakali (FR) 1-2fav (10-10) Made all and raced keenly, slight mistakes 2nd and 3 out, 5 lengths advantage throughout until cruised clear early straight, very easily, won at Punchestown 2m hdl Grd 3 (1) hvy in Jan beating Flaxen Flare (10-10) by 28l, 4 ran.
Flaxen Flare (IRE) 15-8 (10-10) Chased leader in 2nd, not jump fluently, no impression on easy winner from early straight, well beaten when mistake last, 2nd of 4, 28l behind Diakali (10-10) at Punchestown 2m hdl Grd 3 (1) hvy in Jan.
King's Wharf (IRE) 5-1 (11-6) Tracked leaders in 3rd, not fluent 1st, led after 3 out, ridden and headed before 2 out, one pace, 3rd of 10, 12l behind Grand Gold (11-3) at Market Rasen 2m 1f 3yo hdl (2) gd in Sep.
Our Conor (IRE) 8-11fav (10-9) Tracked leader in 2nd, led briefly 3rd, regained led 4 out, soon joined, led before 2 out, soon ridden clear, stayed on well from last, won at Fairyhouse 2m 3yo hdl Grd 3 (1) sft in Dec beating Stocktons Wing (10-9) by 2 1/2l, 5 ran.
Ruacana 10-3 (11-0) Held up, headway when not fluent 3 out, not fluent next, staying on when left in lead soon after last, ridden out, won at Chepstow 2m 4yo hdl Grade 1 (1) hvy in Jan beating Caid Du Berlais (11-0) by 1 1/4l, 8 ran.