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Punchestown Festival preview: Killashee Handicap Hurdle (16.55)

Henry Higgins could well have got in lightly in the Killashee Handicap Hurdle at Punchestown today (16.55) and looks the answer to a fiendishly competitive 2m contest.

The gelding is trained by Charles O’Brien and has had just four starts over the obstacles.

After scoring in facile fashion on hurdles debut at Gorwan Park, the five-year-old ran very well to finish runner-up to Kitten Rock in a Grade 3 contest at Naas.

Although not match for the 7 1/2 length winner, Henry Higgins stuck to the task well without being unduly knocked about and the form has a strong look to it.

Kitten Rock went on to win his next three starts before finishing sixth of eight to Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle and is now rated 159, and that suggests an opening mark of 133 for Henry Higgins could well be on the lenient side.

The selection also ran well last time out when a tenderly handled never nearer two length third to Phil’s Magic at Naas after a 106 day break, and that should have put the JP McManus-owned son of Jeremy spot on for this.

Henry Higgins also remains unexposed and open to stacks more improvement, and looks to have been laid out for this by shrewd connections.
Astre De la Cour continued on his upwardly mobile curve with a hard fought success at Aintree earlier this month, and looks a big danger of just 2lb higher.

The Robert Walford trained five-year-old has won three of his six starts over the obstacles, looks the type who should have plenty more to offer, and comes into the contest right at the top of his game.

Another that I think can go well at a big price in the Jessica Harrington trained Macnicholson.

The six-year-old is a course and distance winner who came good at this time of the year last season when scoring twice.

Macnicholson’s win at the track came in a competitive 25-runner affair, so the son of Definite Arctile clearly has now problems with big fields and having been lightly raced so far this season looks to have been trained with a spring/summer campaign in mind.