Aupcharlie can call the tune for Potts on Thurles hurdles debut
Aupcharlie, the horse that fared best of the Irish-based runners when third in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, has his first run for Willie Mullins at Thurles today.
Having saddled the winner of the Grade One six times, Mullins is accustomed to handling the leading Irish finisher in the March showpiece, but Aupcharlie was not one of his two runners in the race last season. At the time, the Daliapour gelding was still in the care of its Co Down-based breeder Pat Collins.
In the interim, Sizing Europe's owner Alan Potts -- who continues to strengthen and expand his string -- purchased Aupcharlie, so this afternoon's two-mile maiden hurdle will be its first outing for Mullins.
The ever-reliable Andrew Lynch, Potts' regular rider, is booked to steer, and the partnership is fancied to make a winning start.
On paper, the only real threat to the nap selection is Tom Foley's Golanbrook. That one finished an encouraging second to Mount Benbulben on its hurdling bow here and has the benefit of that outing now, but Aupcharlie may just have a touch more class.
There are a few other really smart prospects on show at the Tipperary venue. In particular, Rathlin and Ipsos Du Berlais are two that have unknown potential.
Davy Russell sports the Gigginstown House Stud colours on both, with Mouse Morris' Rathlin out to atone for a tame first try over fences at Punchestown last month in the beginners' chase.
Sizing Santiago, representing Potts, Lynch and Jim Dreaper, is an unexposed sort that may figure in this, as could Popcorn and Sensational Sema.
However, Rathlin, sixth in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in March, is expected to strip fitter here, and can confirm himself a novice of note.
Ipsos Du Berlais tackles the day's feature, the €9,660 INH Stallion Owners' EBF Novice Hurdle.
Although the likes of Black Benny, Pickapocketortwo and My Murphy will keep Noel Meade's imposing grey honest, it's difficult to see past the runaway Down Royal scorer, which remains unbeaten following point-to-point and bumper successes.
Russell could also take the four-year-old maiden hurdle in Michael O'Leary's ubiquitous maroon and white silks. He partners Trifolium for Charles Byrnes in this, a French import that was an eye-catching second at Cork a month ago.