Cue Card promptly tore up the trend book when annihilating the opposition in this race last year, but having relinquished the bumper to an English horse, the Irish will be desperate to get it back.
But with just eight of the 24 runners, they have some work to do although in Raise The Beat (12/1), they have a challenger who meets plenty of the criteria.
Colm Murphy’s six-year-old was beaten in his first ever bumper race but has since gone on to win his next two – beating a 20-horse field at Down Royal – and having been rested this year, Raise The Beat should be fresh for the challenge.
5 of the last 8 winners hadn’t run in the calendar year and six of the last eight winners had run in three bumpers, and as the second highest-rated horse in the race, Raise The Beat has plenty of positives as top-rated horses always perform strongly.
Of the other Irish contenders Double Double (33/1) for the Charles O’Brien stable has to be respected, as does any Willie Mullins horse – he has trained six winners of this race – and he saddles Tusa Eire (20/1) and Lord Gale (14/1).
But as the first six in the betting perform strongly, John Joseph Hanlon’s Star Neuville (10/1), ridden by AP McCoy will attract plenty of support.
The British challenge is headed by Knight Pass and Ericht who are both available at 7/1, but the best of the British bunch could well be Ian William’s Twentyfourcarat who was brought in Ireland and is a huge price at 20/1.
Having beaten Ericht on his only bumper start, there’s more to come from the Jenny Pitman –owned six-year-old, but while Twentyfourcarat could prove the British diamond, Raise The Beat is the Irish gem.
A £20 stake on Raise The Beat winning the bumper would return £260. New customers can sign up here for a free bet worth up to £60.