Mullins charge ready to peak
Having proved frustrating to follow on more than one occasion last term, Blackstairmountain could benefit from the switch to fences at Clonmel today.
Willie Mullins' six-year-old, a Grade One-winning novice, failed to collect in five starts as a second-season hurdler. At Punchestown in the New Year and at Fairyhouse in April, he somehow managed to snatch defeat from what looked like certain victory.
It remains to be seen if Blackstairmountain will show more gumption over the bigger obstacles now, but he just might. On paper, he is the best horse in the two-mile beginners' chase, and the form of that Fairyhouse reversal doesn't read half bad, given that it was Sunday's Grade One winner Voler La Vedette which denied him.
Ruby Walsh, who steers the nap selection, might also land the opening three-year-old hurdle on Mullins' newcomer Ut De Sivola. Second on his sole previous outing in a bumper in France last May, this son of the excellent jumps sire Robin Des Champs is well-related, so it would be no surprise to see him make a winning bow here.
There are other interesting newcomers among Ut De Sivola's 14 rivals, not least Tobar Na Gaoise. Sporting the JP McManus colours for Edward O'Grady's stable, this one accounted for none other than Unaccompanied when scoring on its final run for Jim Bolger at Leopardstown last month.
In the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares' Hurdle, Taraval is the form choice for Charlie Swan and David Casey.
Limerick runner-up Sligo Publican is a danger, but Taraval's third behind Sword Of Destiny in a graded race at Cork last month is the pick on the book if the drop in trip to two and a half miles doesn't inconvenience her.
Later on, Son Amix gets the nod to build on his runner-up finish at Listowel when he tackles the beginners' chase over the same distance.
The likes of Big Game Hunter and The Shepherd will keep Tom Cooper's five-year-old honest, but if he enjoys some luck in running he is the classiest prospect on show.