Sullane Chief to spring a surprise in Boylesports Handicap Hurdle

Saturday’s Hurdle at Leopardstown has attracted a maximum field of 24 with the weights headed by Flaxen Flare. Gordon Elliott’s gelding won the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in March and has been running well since.

He finished a fair fourth in the Greatwood Hurdle before running on into third place in the Ladbroke at Ascot. The form of that race is not working out particularly well but he must have place claims again here.

The hot favourite is Quick Jack who looks quite leniently treated after beating Deep Trouble at Cheltenham in November. He has only been raised 6lbs for that victory despite the fact that the runner-up has won since.

Sea Light and Blood Cotil have also been the subject of solid support in the ante-post market. Sea Light is on a four-timer but is up 11lbs for his latest course win while Blood Cotil fell when looking all over the winner at Cork recently.

He had previously beaten the useful Diakali in receipt of only 5lbs in a valuable race in France. He represents the Willie Mullins and Paul Townend combination who won the Thyestes Chase in midweek.

Gilgamboa is the least experienced runner in the race and will be having only his fourth start on Saturday. He is up 8lbs for his latest win but is clearly open to further improvement.

Nicky Henderson sends over Snake Eyes who has flattered only to deceive in the past. The fact that the Lambourn trainer is running him in such a competitive race suggests that he thinks he is on a decent mark.

Sullane Chief has improved dramatically this season and followed up an easy win at Cork by coasting home at Punchestown in December. Conor Walsh was looking round for dangers all the way up the straight and it is no surprise that the handicapper has raised him over a stone.

Walsh’s claim reduces the burden and he could spring a surprise here with just 10st 3lbs on his back. Dermot Weld’s Diplomat and Denis Cullen’s Dysios are others to consider in a wide open race.

Dysios beat the game mare Leah Claire by two lengths here at Christmas and it could be close between the pair with the runner-up now 2lbs better off.