Felix Yonger primed to deliver for Mullins-Walsh axis in Tied Cottage
Willie Mullins will saddle three of the six runners in his quest to secure a third Tied Cottage Chase in six years tomorrow and Felix Yonger should be the one to deliver under Ruby Walsh.
Flemenstar, a fortuitous Grade One winner at Leopardstown over Christmas, is undoubtedly a danger now that he has returned to some sort of form.
Felix Yonger twice put him in his place last term, but he is a classy individual on his day and is clearly in better heart now.
Days Hotel is another with claims on his best form, but it's hard to get away from Walsh's chosen mount. Felix Yonger finally made the breakthrough at Grade One level here in the spring, and has won three of his five starts at the track in total.
Over the past 14 months, his only defeat in six outings came when third to Road To Riches on his reappearance at Clonmel in November. He subsequently accounted for three reasonable benchmarks in Bright New Dawn, Hidden Cyclone and Days Hotel in the rescheduled Hilly Way Chase at Navan, so he comes here in a rich vein of form. With two miles on deep ground his optimum conditions, then, he is trusted to justify odds-on status in the €42,500 Boylesports-sponsored Grade Two.
In the Listed novices' hurdle, Walsh has opted for Myska over Royal Caviar and the Gigginstown Stud second string, Monbeg Rose.
Bryan Cooper prefers Gordon Elliott's Ball D'Arc, but Myska gets the nod to stretch her unbeaten record to four. The Presenting mare had to be pushed out when dropped back in trip and up in class for a Listed race at Taunton on December 30.
She basically seems versatile in every respect, so it will be a surprise if she doesn't earn a trip to Cheltenham by collecting again here.
Mullins and his son Patrick could well plunder the bumper with the newcomer Battleford, but slight preference in that is for Liam Kenny's A Rated, which won a decent point-to-point in style back in November.
In the preceding Grand National trial, Noel Meade thrusts the smart Bonny Kate into long-distance handicap company. While that could prove a fruitful manoeuvre, Walsh is pencilled in to partner Baie Des Iles for his brother-in-law, Ross O'Sullivan.
Baie Des Iles finally came good on the promise she had previously shown for O'Sullivan when chinning Unic De Bersy here in a similar race last month. At just five years of age, she is clearly a mare of considerable potential, so she is fancied to follow up now under a 6lb penalty.
The day's nap vote falls to Indian Court in the opening maiden hurdle. Mullins' Balko Des Flos will probably be thereabouts here, but he flopped quite tamely at Navan last month.
While Walsh's booking aboard Elliott's Robin Thyme is again of note, Tom Mullins' Indian Court made a fair impression when second to Lift The Latch here earlier in the month. The six-year-old had shown form in bumpers last season, and left behind a couple of below-par autumn turns to keep on nicely behind Lift The Latch, which is a fair prospect.
If Indian Court can build on that now, he should take a bit of stopping under the trainer's rising star son, David.
Pertemps Hurdle qualifiers tend to be minefields in terms of predictability, but it would be no surprise to see Fine Theatre go very close in tomorrow's edition.
Trained by a resurgent Paul Nolan, this half-brother to the stable's 2010 Hennessy Gold Cup hero Joncol has so far failed to fulfil the potential that saw him dance up by 13 lengths in a Fairyhouse maiden hurdle this time last year.
However, for all that he has disappointed in three runs since then, he still has the scope to develop, and his latest effort at Fairyhouse wasn't without promise. On that occasion, Fine Theatre finished a one-paced fourth behind Not For Burning.
He has since been dropped a pound, and has it within his range to make an impression under Paul Townend.