Willie Mullins has described Boston Bob as a match for any novice he has ever brought to the Festival, which guarantees he will start a hot favourite for the Albert Bartlett Hurdle today. It would be no surprise to see him look a Gold Cup winner in the making, but the odds will be very short about a horse running on quick ground for the first time.
There can be no such doubts about another Irish raider, as Sea Of Thunder (2.40 nap) was bounding clear of some smart rivals when falling at the last on his reconnaissance here in the autumn. He was comfortably held by Boston Bob on his only subsequent start, but it looks significant that his shrewd connections are prepared to have another crack at the favourite on this ground.
Mullins also has a couple of interesting contenders for the JCB Triumph Hurdle, but Hisaabaat (1.30) looks the type to relish the hustle and bustle of this race. A big field and strong pace together appear to have persuaded connections that they can dispense with the blinkers he wore last time.
The Irish can also export the Christie's Foxhunter Chase with Salsify (4.00), who looks a class act in this sphere. And they also have a most interesting contender for the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase in Lucky William (5.15). Off 10st 2lb he looks leniently treated for one who has been holding his own in smart company in novice chases.
Donald McCain has had a good week and, having already provided the solution to the Coral Cup, offers a tempting short cut through another pair of handicap mazes with Bourne (4.40) and Desert Cry (2.05 next best).
The former was useful on the Flat and his Ascot win looks solid, while the latter has been crying out for the sort of strong gallop that is guaranteed today.