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Arctic Fire searching for big-race success in Hatton's Grace Hurdle

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Champion Hurdle runner-up Arctic Fire is likely to be a warm order in Sunday's Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle over two and a half miles at Fairyhouse.

Champion Hurdle runner-up Arctic Fire is likely to be a warm order in Sunday's Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle over two and a half miles at Fairyhouse.

The six-year-old gelding finished his last campaign when also placed at Punchestown in May and made a pleasing reappearance when beating Monksland by half a length in the Grade Two Lismullen Hurdle at Navan earlier this month.

If successful, this would be his first victory at Grade One level. With a mark of 169, he has 19lb in hand on Thomas Edison who is next best on ratings.

Patrick Mullins, son and assistant to his father, Willie, said: "Arctic Fire has been great since the Lismullen Hurdle. He has come out of the race well. He needed the run and Ruby (Walsh) rode a great race on him - he let him get his second wind.

"This race seems to suit him as he got the trip in Navan and was was running well (over two and a half miles) in Aintree when he fell. He's as good at two and a half as he is over two miles. He is settling much better.

"He stayed on very strongly in the Champion Hurdle and it is definitely on the agenda again. We think he is very versatile.

"He should be difficult to beat (on Sunday)."

The Mullins yard is also represented by the lightly raced but unbeaten Clondaw Court. Since winning his point-to-point in April 2012, he has landed a bumper and three hurdle races. However, he has been off since November last year.

Patrick Mullins said of the eight-year-old: "Clondaw Court is a very big horse with a huge engine. He has been difficult to keep sound. It's a big ask for him on his first run for a year, but we do see him as a Grade One horse."

Bottom-weight Gwencily Berbas receives 4lb from his six rivals and is an interesting runner for Barry Connell and Alan Fleming.

In his three races he has managed to bag two victories in graded company. Both came by wide margins and he went into many notebooks after slamming former Grade One winner Petite Parisienne by eight lengths at Naas.

Fleming said: "Barry said he would like to stay hurdling with him this year as he's such a tall horse and the experience will stand to him. Chasing will be his game but he looks good enough to win nice pots over hurdles.

"He's going to have to prove he's a Grade One horse, but it's the natural progression for him as he's won a Grade Two and a Grade Three. He's still only four and we would be hoping he would give a good account of himself.

"I was really impressed with him at Naas, especially from the back of the last. We've got to go and have a crack at these races. It would be fair to say he has an each-way chance."

The Mouse Morris-trained Alpha Des Obeaux merits consideration on his second-place effort behind Nichols Canyon in the Grade One Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown in May.