Byline: Peter O'HEHIR
BRAVE Inca should crown a superb season by confirming his superiority over Macs Joy and Hardy Eustace in the ACC Bank Champion Hurdle on the final day of the Punchestown Festival.
The brave eight-year-old and Tony McCoy were united for the first time in this race last year, when outbattling Harchibald.
And, with the exception of his third to Solerina in the Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse, this formidable duo has enjoyed a tremendous season.
Victories in the Bewleys at Leopardstown, when beating Harchibald convincingly, and the AIG, when he stormed up the Leopardstown straight to beat Macs Joy, prefaced his greatest triumph, in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Going into that championship race, Brave Inca had the best form and, once again, he fought like a lion up the Cheltenham hill to keep Mac's Joy at bay, with Hardy Eustace third.
A length separated Brave Inca and Mac's Joy at Cheltenham and in the AIG.
And supporters of Jessica Harrington's charge are entitled to be optimistic about MACS JOY turning the tables today, as he comes into the race at the end of a relatively light season.
But it will take a massive effort from any horse to get past BRAVE INCA in the heat of battle.
Trainer Colm Murphy intends walking the Punchestown track this morning to make sure that the ground is safe for his stable star. If it's good-to-firm, Brave Inca will not run.
But watering continued last night in an attempt to maintain the good ground which has prevailed all week. And today's feature without Brave Inca would prove to be a major anti-climax.
Brave Inca is attempting a unique treble today, a trio of Grade One wins at the Punchestown Festival, having won the champion novice two years ago before his thrilling victory over Harchibald in this race twelve months ago.
I expect the ground to be good, and acceptable to Colm Murphy. And I expect Brave Inca to produce another battling performance to prove himself again as the season's outstanding hurdler. …