Weatherbys Champion Bumper hero Ferny Hollow makes his eagerly-awaited hurdling debut at Gowran Park on Friday.
Willie Mullins has picked the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle as the starting point for one of the most exciting recruits to obstacles this season.
Owned by Cheveley Park Stud, he is one of their small but very select band of National Hunt horses that also includes the likes of Envoi Allen, Ballyadam and Allaho.
Having met with defeat in his first two bumpers last season, it was not until Mullins fitted Ferny Hollow with a hood he showed his true potential, cruising to victory at Fairyhouse before coming from almost last to first at Cheltenham.
“He’s summered really well and Willie seems very happy with him,” said Chris Richardson, managing director of the stud.
“He’s one of a select few we have that continue to show up very well for us and hopefully he can continue to progress as we go forward.
“He took a little bit of educating last season, in his first two races he was doing everything too quick and he was a bit too free. Hopefully whatever he does we’ll be able to build on for the future, but he’s certainly been pleasing his trainer.
“Sometimes, with horses like him who have been a bit buzzy, it helps getting them over obstacles – it gives them something else to concentrate on.”
Ferny Hollow faces far from a penalty kick, however, with Henry de Bromhead’s Bob Olinger also an exciting recruit, winning on his only start under rules so far, a bumper at Gowran, by 10 lengths.
Regarding the potential of his runner, De Bromhead said last week: “He’s lovely, he’s really good. He worked well the other day.”