Better the Devil than the rest of them in Fairyhouse Grade 2

The Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Hurdle, at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday, looks the perfect forum for Thedevilscoachman to confirm his continued improvement, writes Planet Sport's Jonathan Doidge.

Trained by Noel Meade, the six-year-old Thedevilscoachman showed some decent form over fences earlier in the campaign, his second to the talented Ferby Hollow at Punchestown in December and then his third behind Saint Sam at Fairyhouse in January, both being indicators that he'll have more to offer over the bigger obstacles.

However, perhaps with his novice status in mind, the shrewd Meade switched him back to hurdles at Navan in February and it paid dividends. His head success from Ashdale Bob, with Commander Of Fleet over nine lengths back in third, reads very well now. That came in the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle, on heavy ground.

Conditions are significantly different at Fairyhouse for today's contest, with the official description being yielding, but he did win his debut bumper on a similar surface so there are no concerns on that score.

Add to that the fact that Commander Of Fleet came out and won the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival next time, with Ashdale Bob again running well to be third, and you can see why Thedevilscoachman, who bypassed a trip to Prestbury Park, looks a very strong candidate for success today.

Second-favourite Darasso is a good yardstick in this grade but may again have to give best to just one opponent, while Whiskey Sour may mop up if the two leading market protagonists happen to have an off day. Santa Rossa is an interesting and completely unexposed runner but she'll need a lot of improvement to trouble the selection, Thedevilscoachman.

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