2m Ladbrokes Hurdle (Extended Handicap Hurdle) (Grade B)
Advanced Virgo is out to provide Charles Byrnes with a fourth consecutive win in the Ladbrokes Hurdle, which looks as competitive as ever. Advanced Virgo won a valuable Grade A Handicap Hurdle back at Fairyhouse in November, but back in third on that occasion was the heavily backed DROP THE ANCHOR. The JP McManus runner was putting in a strong run before getting badly hampered at the second last and did unbelievably well to claim third.
He would have finished much closer to Advanced Virgo and is now 8lbs better off with that rival. Drop The Anchor shouldn’t be twice his price on that evidence and he could still be a few pounds well-in having been brought down on his penultimate start when getting to the business end of proceedings. Drop The Anchor looks much better value at 11/1 than his other starts this season and is a solid each-way player if he gets a bit more luck in running this time.
The Moyglass Flyer is a course specialist and is bound to be extremely popular, creeping in at the bottom-of-the-weights, but I am also going to side with HES A HARDY BLOKE for Noel Meade, who is running in his first handicap as a novice hurdler.
He gets into the race off a workable mark of 134 having won three of his last four starts and looks a classy individual. His maiden hurdle saw him put in a disappointing round of jumping to finish a distant third to Ballyadam, but he tidied that up to claim a gutsy success over at Punchestown.
Hes A Hardy Bloke was then far too good when carrying top-weight off a mark of 125 to claim a small-runner affair over at Cork on heavy ground. The return to a better surface and a big-field should suit this strong travelling type and I think there could be more to come from him for a yard that won this back in 2017.
There is a chance Hes A Hardy Bloke doesn’t run as he is also entered in the Grade 1 Novice Hurdle here on Sunday, but if he does, he looks an improver and one worth having onside.
1pt each-way Hes A Hardy Bloke @10/1, 15:50 Leopardstown, Saturday (1-7 places, 1/5 odds Skybet)
1pt each-way Drop The Anchor @11/1, 15:50 Leopardstown, Saturday (1-7 places, 1/5 odds Skybet)