Top-class hurdler Darver Star kicks off his career over fences at Punchestown on Tuesday.
Gavin Cromwell’s stable star was rated just 119 in August of last year, but rose rapidly through the ranks with four successive wins before finishing third behind Envoi Allen in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
The eight-year-old subsequently took his game to even greater heights when beaten just half a length by Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown, and proved that effort was no fluke when third in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Darver Star is set to make his first competitive appearance since in the Ladbrokes Watch Racing Online For Free Beginners Chase, with Keith Donoghue taking over in the saddle from Cromwell’s currently sidelined stable jockey Jonathan Moore.
Cromwell said: “We’re happy with the horse and it will be good to get him started. We’re just hoping for a good, safe round of jumping and we’ll see what happens after that.
“He’ll come on for the run, like all the horses do at this time of the year.
“He hasn’t jumped (fences) on grass yet, but he’s plenty of schooling done.”
Darver Star is one of 10 runners declared for Tuesday’s two-mile-one-furlong contest, with the Gordon Elliott-trained Conflated perhaps his biggest threat.
The Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding was last seen finishing fourth behind Asterion Forlonge in a Grade One novice hurdle at Dublin Racing Festival in February.