Ireland’s hurdling heavyweights Faugheen, Samcro and Supasundae have all been declared to run in Sunday’s Unibet Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.
A thrilling renewal has attracted a quality field of six runners for the €100,000 Grade 1 contest with 2018 Punchestown Champion Hurdle winner Supasundae looking to pick up where he left off last April at the home of Irish jump racing.
The Jessica Harrington-trained eight-year-old recorded a Grade 1 double last season and connections are hoping he can once again make his mark over the minimum distance on Sunday.
“Supadsundae has come back very well from his summer break and we’re very happy with him ahead of Sunday’s Unibet Morgiana Hurdle,” Kate Harrington, assistant to her mother Jessica said on Friday morning.
“He had a gallop after racing at Naas on Saturday and he is as fit as we would expect him to be without a run at this time of year. Last season he was unbeaten over two miles and ended up by winning the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown and it is a track he likes.
“He’s so versatile that we’ll probably mix it up with him again and possibly go for the Hatton’s Grace after this and then back up to three miles but he is a horse that just gives everything on the day so we are looking forward to seeing him out again on Sunday,” she added.
Samcro will be seeking a first success since routing his rivals to win the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, while Faugheen is bidding to win a 10th race at Grade 1 level and the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle for a second time following his victory here last year.
Willie Mullins’ 2017 Punchestown Champion Hurdle winner Wicklow Brave and this years Galway Hurdle winner Sharjah both join their stable companion Faugheen in the race while the Gordon Elliott-trained Tombstone completes the line up.
Sunday’s card also features the Grade 2 Liam And Valerie Brennan Memorial Florida Pearl Novice Chase. Gordon Elliott is looking to win this prize for the third year in a row and he saddles the Cheltenham Festival winner Blow By Blow, who recently made a winning chase debut at Galway, and the fast improving Cubomania. Willie Mullins also relies on two challengers with the Listowel winner Orion d’Aubrelle being joined by stablemate Some Neck.
The card concludes with a terrific clash in the Mervyn Gray Construction (Pro/Am) Flat Race. Willie Mullins relies on his hugely impressive Ballinrobe winner Mt Leinster while Gordon Elliott saddles Malone Road who created a huge impression when making a successful racecourse debut at Down Royal several weeks ago.
On Saturday Cadmium will bid for his third big race success at Punchestown in the Grade 2 Betway Craddockstown Novice Chase.
This Supreme Horse Racing-owned gelding won a valuable handicap chase at the Festival in April and he returned to form to land a Grade 3 at this track last month. He faces several interesting rivals including his stablemate Voix Du Reve, last month’s course winner Kildorrery and the Gigginstown-owned pair of Mind’s Eye and Hardline who are both looking to follow up recent beginners chase victories.
In the Listed Frontline Security Grabel Mares Hurdle Willie Mullins sends out two runners headed by last season’s hugely talented juvenile hurdler Stormy Ireland.
Elsewhere huge interest is likely to surround the reappearance of Commander Of Fleet who looked a potential star when winning the Goffs Land Rover Bumper in April. He takes his chance in the four-year-old Kildare Now Maiden Hurdle.
Ed Nicholson, Head of Racing Communications and Sponsorship at Unibet commented; "To say we are delighted with the quality of the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle field on Sunday would be the understatement of the decade."
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