Punchestown Festival preview: Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle (16.55)
No More Heroes looked an unlucky loser at the Cheltenham Festival and can gain compensation by landing the Grade 1 Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle at Punchestown today (16.55).
The Gordon Elliott-trained gelding created a huge impression when winning two bumpers last year, easily beating the highly regarded Milsean at Naas before following up in facile fashion at this venue.
No More Heroes looked a potential top notch prospect when going hurdling, and confirmed that view when beating Shaneshill by 1 3/4 lengths in a Grade 2 contest over 2m 4f at Naas on seasonal reappearance.
The six-year-old then scoped badly after finishing just fifth to Outlander in a Grade 2 affair at Leopardstown, and showed that running to be all wrong when an excellent third to Martello Tower in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham.
Jockey Bryan Cooper went for an ambitious run up the rails three from home, and No More Heroes lost vital ground and momentum as the gap closed.
It left the son of Presenting with a mountain to climb, but despite being three lengths down at the last No More Heroes rallied strongly to go down by just 1 1/2 lengths.
There is little doubt in my mind that No More Heroes would have prevailed granted a clear run, and I fancy him to confirm earlier season form with Shaneshill and make amends.
Shaneshill is trained by the all-conquering Willie Mullins, who won all three Grade 1 contests at the track yesterday.
Since being beaten by No More Heroes at Naas, the six-year-old has run a blinder to finish runner-up to Douvan in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival before scoring in facile fashion at Fairyhouse last time out in a Grade 2 contest.
Shaneshill is clearly progressing with each run, but the son of King’s Theatre is now tackling 3m for the first time and I am not sure he will be as effective at the trip.
The gelding was also beaten fair and square by No More Heroes when they last met, and I don’t think that Shaneshill is entitled to be favourite ahead of the selection.
Of the others, impressive Aintree winner Thistlecrack commands plenty of respect if this contest doesn’t come too soon and looks the one most likely to capitalise if the “big two” underperform.