After last season's failures over fences, MIKAEL D'HAGUENET has bounced right back over timber and completed a hat-trick when beating Rick with the minimum of fuss at Naas. He faces a much sterner test here against stablemate Mourad who has been contesting all the top staying races for the past couple of years, but today's trip should suit Ruby Walsh's mount better and he gets the vote. Fully Funded has been an expensive failure in two starts over fences this season but there's nothing wrong with his form over timber and he's best at around this trip. He will ensure the Mullins pair don't have everything their own way.
Fully Funded (USA) 5-4fav (11-12) Tracked leaders, 5th halfway, ridden along approaching 3 out and no impression entering straight, kept on one pace to go moderate 3rd run-in, 3rd of 13, 16l behind Carloswayback (11-12) at Punchestown 2m 4f beg chase hvy in Jan.
Mourad (IRE) 10-1 (11-8) Held up in last pair, headway 2 out, soon chased leading pair, kept on same pace, no impression when not fluent last, 3rd of 6, 17l behind Big Buck's (11-8) at Cheltenham 3m hdl G2 (1) gs in Jan.
Mikael D'haguenet (FR) 2-9fav (11-3) Raced 3rd of the 4, keen hold & closed up 4 out, travelling well straight and 2nd 2 out, led approaching last, quickly clear, stayed on well, very easily, won at Naas 2m 3f Grade 3 Hurdle (5yo+) (1) in Jan beating Rick (11-6) by 7l, 4 ran.
Stonemaster (IRE) 12-1 (9-5) Rear of mid-division for most, never a factor, 15th of 22, 46l behind Seabass (10-7) at Leopardstown 2m 5f Ext hcp ch in Jan.
Benash (IRE) 40-1 (11-3) Held up last of the 5, went 4th from 3 out, no extra from after next, last of 5, 32l behind Zaidpour (11-10) at Gowran Park 3m hdl G2 sft in Jan.
Forty Foot Tom 13-2 (11-12) Rear of mid-division, some headway approaching straight, 9th 2 out, kept on one pace, 6th of 24, 9l behind Bridgets Pet (11-11) at Naas 2m 3f mdn hdl sft.
Rick (FR) 8-1 (11-6) Disputed lead, close 2nd from 4th, on terms again from 3 out, led straight, pressed 2 out, headed approaching last and soon no impression, kept on same pace, 2nd of 4, 7l behind Mikael D'Haguenet (11-3) at Naas 2m 3f Grade 3 Hurdle (5yo+) (1) in Jan.
Whatuthink (IRE) 50-1 (11-3) Soon prominent at slow pace, on terms from 7 out, led before 4 out, headed next, no impression in 3rd 2 out, kept on same pace, dropped to 4th close home, 4th of 5, 17l behind Zaidpour (11-10) at Gowran Park 3m hdl G2 sft in Jan.