Dolly looking swell in Tipperary opener
Ted Dolly is napped to land the opening maiden hurdle for local men Eddie Hales and John Cullen on this evening's all-jumps programme at Tipperary.
English-born Hales, who specialises in turning over stock, has saddled two winners from his last five runners out of his Dundrum base.
While he has just a select few to race under rules, having been a pivotal part of Kim Bailey's Lambourn operation in the glory days of Alderbrook and Master Oats, he knows a thing or two about fine-tuning horses for the track.
Ted Dolly, formerly in the care of Joanna Morgan, should further enhance its strike-rate under Cullen, the in-form Wexford native who now doubles as a trainer in Thurles.
On its first start for Hales at Punchestown, Cullen's mount posted a superb effort to be sixth behind Oscara Dara, only tiring very late on after racing prominently in the heavy going.
That confirmed the promise of two placed efforts over timber in the autumn, so he won't need to do much more to secure what is a fairly modest two-mile heat.
The Curragh's Patrick Prendergast, better known for his exploits on the Flat, can take the three-mile edition courtesy of Wandering Aengus.
With the Mullins-trained pair Up Ou That and Champagne Agent joining the likes of Whispering Hills, Flaming Hymn, Theroadtoabbeyfeale and Groomed in this, Wandering Aengus is undoubtedly in the more competitive of the two maidens.
Nonetheless, on his first try at this trip at Cork a fortnight ago, he ran his best race since returning from a year-long lay-off in December, keeping on to be second to the front-running Beachdale Lad.
With his stamina proven, then, he is a potent threat here under Alan Crowe.
In the handicap hurdle, Crowe has a squeak on the unexposed Serious Fun for his boss Christy Roche, while Ruby Walsh gets the nod to conjure an overdue first win over fences from Tony Martin's Nearest The Pin in what looks like a decent beginners' chase.
Prior to that, Regal D'Estruval, a fine second to Shot From The Hip at Killarney, can turn the tables on that one off four-pound better terms for Jim Culloty and Tom Doyle in the Facebook Chase.