Progressive novice hurdler Flame Bearer has been responsible for three of Pat Doyle's five winners this season and the County Tipperary-based trainer has now elected to up the stakes with the lightly-raced seven-year-old by pitching him in open company for the first time at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday.
Flame Bearer is 9/2 for the Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Hurdle and, if scoring over his elders, will complete a hat-trick of Grade 2 wins as well as maintaining his unbeaten record at Fairyhouse.
Flame Bearer, who won back-to-back bumpers after finishing second in an Irish point-to-point, was unlucky to bump into talented Graded performers Dysart Dynamo and Bronn in his first two starts over obstacles, but comfortably made it third time lucky at Fairyhouse in January.
Since breaking his maiden, Flame Bearer has similarly thrived in novice events winning a pair of Grade 2s, at Naas and back at Fairyhouse, where he showed an especially game attitude to get his head back in front.
The manner of Flame Bearer's performances have persuaded Doyle, who is enjoying his best season since 2007-08, to throw his gelding into the deep end against more experienced rivals - with the likes of Darver Star having run seven times this season, the same as Flame Bearer's total number of starts under rules.
Doyle said: "I haven't done much with him since his last start, but he seems in very good form.
"It might not be the best thing to do, taking on older and more experienced horses instead of keeping to novice company, but we'll see how he gets on."