Paul Nicholls expects Stormy Ireland to make the most of a significant drop in class the Unibet “You’re On” Mares’ Hurdle.
The Jared Sullivan-owned seven-year-old will bid to strike gold on her fourth start since joining the Ditcheat handler from Willie Mullins when stepping back up to two and a half miles in the Listed contest at Sandown.
Although Stormy Ireland beat only one rival home in the Grade Two International Hurdle at Cheltenham last month, Nicholls believes the result was better than it looks on paper.
Speaking in his Betfair column, Nicholls said: “Chasing didn’t work out for her in two starts this season, so she was back over hurdles last time when she ran much better than her finishing position suggests in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham three weeks ago.
“That has sharpened her and this Listed mares’ hurdle is a more suitable target for Stormy Ireland, who has a 4lb penalty to carry for winning a Grade Three race in Ireland.
“I’d say she should be hard to beat stepping up in trip against her own sex.”
Robin Gold has been in prolific form this season winning four of her last five starts, however, trainer Dan Skelton feels she will have to improve again if she is to add to that tally.
Skelton said: “Though Harry (Skelton) won on her last time, Bridget (Andrews) will get the ride on Robin Gold as she gets on very well with her.
“She has been very progressive this season, but this is a massive step up in class again though.
“The track will suit her as it is a track you can play late on. She has got a lot on her plate being realistic though, but we are looking forward to giving it a go.”
Harry Fry is confident testing conditions will play to the strengths of Whitehotchillifili, who finished second off top weight in a handicap over course and distance on her latest start.
He said: “Strictly on ratings, they’ve all got plenty to find with Stormy Ireland.
“Our mare ran a really good race there a month ago under top weight.
“Conditions will not be an issue for her and hopefully she goes there with a very strong each-way chance.”
The field is completed by Flow Away from the yard of Alex Hales, the Venetia Williams-trained Quick Wave and Desaray Girl, who will represent Micky Hammond.