Cheltenham Festival hero Jeff Kidder bids to follow up in the Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
The four-year-old ran out an authoritative winner of the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle in the Cotswolds last month and trainer Noel Meade is looking forward to testing his powers at Grade Two level on Easter Monday.
He said: “He came out of Cheltenham really well and actually was a kilo heavier on Friday than he was going to Cheltenham.
“He’s fresh as a daisy so we decided we’d let him take his chance, because once you get past Punchestown, he’s into the big world then.”
Jeff Kidder’s biggest threat appears to be the Denise Foster-trained Teahupoo, who is unbeaten in three starts and is already a dual winner over the course and distance.
“Denise’s horse is probably a fair horse. Hopefully he mightn’t be as good on the better ground, but I’d say he’ll be hard to beat,” Meade added.
The Tu Va handler also has a major contender for the second Grade Two on the card in Beacon Edge.
The Doyen gelding steps back in distance for the two-and-a-half-mile Underwriting Exchange Hurdle after finishing a creditable fourth in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Meade said: “I said we’d declare him and have a look. He had a hard race in Cheltenham, but Sean (Flanagan) cantered him on Saturday morning and was very happy.”
If Beacon Edge does take his chance, he will be taking on rivals that include the Mouse Morris-trained French Dynamite, Foster’s Pertemps Final runner-up The Bosses Oscar, Scarpeta and Stormy Ireland from the Willie Mullins stable.
Scarpeta was fourth to Beacon Edge in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan on his latest start, while Stormy Ireland has her first race since returning to the Closutton handler since having a spell with Paul Nicholls at Ditcheat.
“Scarpeta has a little bit to find on ratings, but he’s in good form. Hopefully, he’ll run well,” said Mullins’ assistant David Casey.
“Stormy Ireland is back with us after being away in England. She’s coming back from a break. She is in good form and worked very well during the week. Hopefully, she’ll run well.”
Grade Two honours are also up for grabs in the Devenish Chase, for which Fakir D’oudairies will be a hot favourite.
Joseph O’Brien’s charge would not be winning out of turn, having filled the runner-up spot on three of his four starts this season – most recently in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.
Mullins is again two-handed with Easy Game and Annamix, who should both appreciate the spring ground.
“Easy Game has been crying out for a bit of nicer ground. It should suit him,” said Casey.
“Annamix won his beginners’ chase round Fairyhouse and going back there on nicer ground will help him.”
Battleoverdoyen (Foster) and Castlegrace Paddy (Pat Fahy) are also in the mix.