Morgiana Hurdle (Punchestown) Preview & Betting Tips – Sunday 20th November 2016

Over in Ireland this coming Sunday we have one of the top early season two mile hurdle contests. Won by the likes of Solwhit, Hurricane Fly, Moscow Flyer and Brave Inca over the years, a win here is often a useful pointer towards further success in the big races to come.

Willie Mullins has won the last five editions of this and one more victory would put him out in front as the most successful trainer in the history of the race. With the majority of the main protagonists hailing from his County Carlow operation, Mullins doesn’t look like relinquishing his grip on the race this year. The ground at the track is currently riding soft, but with not much rain forecast isn’t expected to deteriorate too much come race day.

Race Analysis

The early entries for this race made for a mouth-watering affair, featuring the past two Champion Hurdle winners in the Rich Ricci duo of Annie Power and Faugheen. That duo however seem likely to sidestep this engagement, along with the talented mares Vroum Vroum Mag and Apple’s Jade. Those withdrawals haven’t shorn the race of all its quality however as we do still look likely to have a trio of Grade 1 winners going to post.

Ivanovich Gorbatov delivered on his longstanding reputation of a horse of some ability when impressively landing the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. Good ground is thought to be the key to this one which may explain his subsequent poor outings when twice trounced by Apple’s Jade. His first start of the current campaign also resulted in a resounding defeat when stepped up to 2m4f for the first time. He is undoubtedly good on his day, but with the ground riding as it is, that day is unlikely to come here. He’s priced at 8/1 with Betfair.

Jer’s Girl – 4/1 with Bet365 – would be pretty strongly fancied were this run over 2m4f, with her 10 length verdict over O O Seven here last year looking all the better following that horses win in a good Novice Chase at Cheltenham. Gavin Cromwell’s filly has however never posted anything like as good an effort over this trip, with her latest effort resulting in a 10 length fifth behind Footpad.

Betting Tips

Overall the sensible option seems to be to back last year’s winner Nichols Canyon to defend his crown at odds of 4/5 with Betfair. The Andrea and Graham Wylie owned six year old toughed it out here in 2015 to hand the mighty Faugheen the only defeat of his 13 race career to date and is now a six time winner at the highest level. He has no Faugheen to contend with this time around and having finished a fine third to Annie Power in the Champion Hurdle in March he looks the one to beat. He’s a pretty short priced favourite, but deserves to be and is the one to be on.