Plain Talking can pip Willie Mullins'-trained Westerner Lady in Ladbrokes Hurdle at Ballybrit
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh will strive to cap what has been a memorable week in the west for them when they tackle the Ladbrokes Hurdle with Westerner Lady.
They have won the €80,000 Galway feature twice in the past three years, and Westerner Lady has obvious claims of enhancing that record.
A lightly-raced six-year-old, she has won three of her four hurdle starts, recently running out an authoritative winner at Killarney. Off a mark of 121 on her first start since the autumn, that was an impressive effort, and there will be plenty keen to keep Walsh's mount on side here off an 11lb higher rating.
Running on in fourth that day was John Kiely's Master Appeal, which was also making an effective seasonal bow, having unshipped over fences first time up. Master Appeal should also figure in today's two-mile-six-furlong contest, likewise Ibsen, which was second that day but is a little more exposed.
The weights are topped by Totalize, whose trainer Brian Ellison has a fine record here, and you could make a case for any number of the 19 runners in what is a cracking handicap. However, the bottom-weighted Plain Talking appeals most.
Gavin Cromwell's four-year-old has proved progressive, and was collecting for a third time in five starts when clinging on from Sea Light on Wednesday.
She is a tough customer, so the seven-pound penalty that gets her into the handicap off 10st is no great concern for such an upwardly mobile sort.
Moreover, this slightly longer trip might also be to Plain Talking's advantage, so she is fancied to have a big say again under seven-pound claimer Brien Kane.
In the opening maiden hurdle, Robbie McNamara has booked Walsh for his French recruit Rogue Agent, a dual Flat winner by Montjeu. Art Of Security, Back In Black and Timing'severything have chances, but Black Ace might be the solution to this.
Noel Meade's Kilbeggan bumper winner has a touch of quality. He travelled like a smart horse at Tipperary last time as well, only to be thwarted by Oscars Boss's turn of foot late on.
Although beaten, that confirmed the son of Yeats' promise, and he might be better suited to hurdling. If he takes to the job, he will be thereabouts for Sean Flanagan.
Dermot Weld could plunder the two-year-olds' maiden and nursery with Mujaazy and Firey Speech, while Deeds Not Words is worth a look in the seven-furlong handicap.
Ado McGuinness's Tuesday victor Beau Satchel has a big weight to carry in this, and Deeds Not Words doesn't get off lightly either with 9st 10lb under Ronan Whelan.
Still, Johnny Levins' charge rattled home to be third at Fairyhouse over six furlongs recently. That was his best run for the stable, and he might well appreciate this trip now.
The day's nap vote falls to the Peter Fahey-trained Appy Days in the bumper. Mullins's debutante Queen Deirdre is a King's Theatre three-parts sister to the Grade One-winning hurdler Identity Thief, so she could be hard to beat.
Nonetheless, Appy Days, a sister to Mullins' Grade One-placed Royal Alphabet and to her own prolific stablemate Queen Alphabet, showed promise when second to Pursecco at Roscommon.
With that experience under her belt, she should go close in the hands of Finny Maguire.
Tomorrow, Sea Light might make amends in the three-mile hurdle, while Weld's Tarazani is the nap selection in the long-distance Flat handicap.
Third to the Derby hero Harzand at Cork in March, he looks favourably treated off a mark of 78 in first-time visors.