Shark Hanlon is confident his bargain buy Skyace has plenty in her favour as he aims to land the first Grade One of his career in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final at Fairyhouse.
Picked up for just £600, Skyace has been a revelation this season – winning four times, including a Grade Three at 66-1 at Down Royal and also defying a penalty in a Listed race at Punchestown at 28-1.
Her connections have certainly made their money back – especially if they have backed her – and she again ran with credit at Cheltenham last month, when fourth as she tried to concede 5lb to winner Telmesomethinggirl and the other two who finished in front of her.
“She ran a cracker at Cheltenham, because she was conceding weight to all the ones who beat her,” said County Carlow trainer Hanlon.
“We’re 5lb better off with those who finished behind us there and are taking us on again. This trip of two-and-a-half miles will suit her better as well – she’s got a lot in her favour.
“We only went backwards in trip last time because it was Cheltenham. She definitely wants further, but the three who finished in front of her don’t run in this.
“The only thing you’d be afraid of is if there was a fresh mare there, but a lot of them went to Cheltenham.
“She’s definitely better on good ground than soft ground but ground wouldn’t be a big issue with her. I’d say she’d be happier on nicer ground.”
Either way, Skyace has already repaid her purchase price many times over.
Hanlon added: “You’d never think you’d be going for a Grade One with a £600 mare, but she’s great for racing.
“It’s like Rachael Blackmore – she’s a dream story, and so is this mare.
“I’ve never won a Grade One, I came close a few times with Hidden Cyclone and Luska Lad – but please God this one can do it.”
Glens Of Antrim, Roseys Hollow, Hook Up and Gauloise all re-oppose after finishing behind Skyace at Cheltenham.
Joseph O’Brien runs two in Castra Vetera and Global Equity – who need to find marked improvement.
O’Brien told Betfair: “Castra Vetera made a promising hurdling debut at Naas, but didn’t build on that when upped in class in a Grade Three mares’ novice hurdle at Fairyhouse last time.
“She’s better than she showed there, and will hopefully bounce back here.
“Global Equity disappointed at Limerick last time, but would have a chance based on her previous two runs. Conditions will suit, and it wouldn’t surprise if she ran well.”