TRAINER Tom Mullins is looking forward to seeing Galway Plate hero Bob Lingo return to competitive action in the Derrygrath Chase at Clonmel on Thursday.
The 11-year-old ran out an impressive winner of the valuable mid-summer feature in August, after which he enjoyed a couple of spins over hurdles.
He was outclassed in the Grade One JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal on his latest appearance in early November but is back in more realistic company at the Tipperary circuit.
Bob Lingo's long-term goal will then be the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree in the spring.
"He's had a good break since his last run and he's in really good form," said the County Kilkenny handler.
"We're hoping to get him back for the big meetings in the spring and, depending on what weight he gets, we're looking at running in the National at Aintree.
"We're putting a hood on him for his ears, as much with Aintree in mind as anything.
"With all the hustle and bustle at the start of the National I think a hood might just help, so if he takes to it, we might just keep it on."
Tranquil Sea has not won since last March and trainer Edward O'Grady is concerned about the prospect of testing conditions.
"He's in good form and he's a course and distance winner, but I would have a big concern about the ground," said O'Grady.
"I'm looking forward to running him on better ground in the spring."
Bob Lingo, Tranquil Sea and the Willie Mullins-trained Call The Police all line up in the two-and-a-half-mile contest with a rating of 150, with Forpadydeplasterer just 1lb behind on 149.
The six-runner field is completed by Ninetieth Minute and Magnanimity.