Willie Mullins has five entries to choose from for Saturday's Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle as he bids to land Punchestown's Grade 2 contest for the fifth year in succession.
Saturday's contest has produced some smart winners since it's inception in 2003 as the Byrne Group Novice Hurdle before being renamed after the great Moscow Flyer in 2009. Kicking King who was to go on and win the 2005 Cheltenham Gold Cup and two King George VI Chases wan the inaugural contest while Mullins tasted his first success with Mikal D'Haguenet in 2009 before incredibly winning five of the next seven renewals. Vautor (2014) and Douvan (2015) both used this as a stepping stone to winning the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival which will be the likely route for this year's winner.
Whoever he chooses to run out of Crack Mome, Cilaos Emery, Bunk Off Early, Cadmium or Pravalaguna would be a likely favourite on Saturday but it is the first two who offer the real star billing.
A bumper winner in France, Crack Mome made a winning hurdling debut for Mullins at Clonmel last month where he jumped well and won comfortably, while connections thought the five-year-old would improve considerably for the run. That placed him as one of the leading hopes for the Supreme along with stablemate Cilaos Emery who also made a winning hurdling debut at Navan after previously winning a bumper at the Punchestown Festival. That form looks particularly strong after he readily disposed of Joey Sasa who had solid bumper and hurdles experience and has since franked the form when winning at Leopardstown.
The Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle is Race 4 on a competitive seven-race-card at Punchestown live on Sky Racing on Saturday night.