Kilcrea to keep Mangan on roll
JIMMY MANGAN'S in-form Conna stable can get proceedings under way at Tipperary today with another win courtesy of Kilcrea in the two-mile maiden hurdle.
While the Limerick Junction venue's chase track must pass a 7.30 inspection this morning, the hurdle course is expected to be fit for racing, though the going will be heavy.
Kilcrea doesn't seem to mind deep ground, so he is napped to prevail under the trainer's son Paddy in what is a fairly moderate contest.
A point-to-point winner last year, the Definite Article gelding won a decent bumper at Gowran Park in the spring. He reverts to hurdling now having had his first racecourse start over flights when fifth at Gowran last December, and should score.
Dessie Hughes' Kilavalley and John Ryan's Reafadda look to be the main dangers. However, Kilavalley, third at Tramore on his recent reappearance, simply may not be good enough, and Reafadda is a horse that has already passed up good opportunities.
Liz Doyle's Anoosou is fancied in the other maiden hurdle, but it is the beginners' chases that add real value in the card.
In the event that they go ahead, Mount Benbulben, denied his fencing bow once already due to Punchestown's washed out fixture on Wednesday, will likely start at very short odds in the two-mile version.
Granted, the trip may be a fraction on the short side for Gordon Elliott's seven-year-old, but he is a proper horse that excelled in the mud over flights last term.
Gigginstown Stud's Il Fenomeno and Far Away So Close represent genuine threats, as might Robert Tyner's improving Boss Croaker.
Still, Mount Benbulben is an infinitely more proven talent that should take plenty of stopping under Davy Condon.
In the two-and-a-half-mile edition, Ruby Walsh stands in for Andrew Lynch -- sidelined after a couple of heavy falls at Cheltenham over the weekend -- on Henry de Bromhead's Buckers Bridge.
Unbeaten in a point-to-point and two bumpers to date, the six-year-old is another mud-lover that should win with a clear round, though the likes of The Westerner Boy and Panther Claw are worthy rivals.