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Postmark: Like-A-Butterfly can get Irish off to a flyer.

Byline: Steve Mason

RECENT history may be against her, but Like-A-Butterfly is given a confident vote to get favourite backers off to a good start to the meeting in the Gerrard Supreme Novices' Hurdle (2.00), writes Steve Mason.

Cardinal Hill, Youlneverwalkalone, His Song and Finnegan's Hollow all failed to deliver for the Irish when starting as well-backed favourites for the opener at the last four festivals, but Like-A-Butterfly is expected to prove too strong for the home team.

The leading bumper horse in Ireland last season, the Christy Roche-trained mare has made relentless improvement since switching to hurdles, culminating in an impressive defeat of today's rivals Sacundai and Adamant Approach at Leopardstown last month. That was the most competitive novice hurdle run on either side of the Irish Sea this season and a reproduction of that performance will probably suffice.

The going is a slight concern because she has done all her racing on a soft surface, and the fact that the ground has ridden a lot faster than predicted at recent Festivals is a worry, but it will be surprising if it rides fast today, and good ground is not expected to be a problem.

Dual course-and-distance winner Westender should prove the pick of the home team and looks sure to reach the frame. His form in handicaps has a solid look to it and he makes much more appeal than stablemate Bernardon. Eternal Spring would have rated nap material if turning out in Thursday's County Hurdle, but has to find improvement to land this.

Pick of the betting opportunities over fences is GUNTHER MCBRIDE in the William Hill National Hunt Handicap Chase. Antonin won the Racing Post Chase en route to landing this prize a few seasons back and Gunther McBride looks set to give a repeat performance. Even though he has been raised 17lb for that success, the way he powered clear of his rivals up the Kempton straight suggests he could be a step ahead of the handicapper. Ad Hoc is well-in on last season's Whitbread Gold Cup victory, but his three- mile form is less impressive.

Selections: 2.00 Like-A-Butterfly (nap), 2.35 Seebald, 3.15 Istabraq, 3.55 Gunther McBride, 4.30 No Discount, 5.05 Majed.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 12, 2002
Previous Article:Spreadwise: Dual approach to opposing Istabraq can pay dividends.
Next Article:Irish View: Adamant Approach to overturn hotpot.

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