Mullins hoping Marina can get back on track in intriguing Festival prep
Former leading novice hurdler Glencove Marina, which holds big-race entries at the Cheltenham Festival, has a fine opportunity to get his career back on track at Clonmel this afternoon in the Kilcash Chase.
The eight-year-old was sidelined with leg trouble for almost two years following a Leopardstown success over Finger Onthe Pulse but made a satisfactory comeback over timber at Punchestown on New Year's Eve.
That pipe-opener behind Footy Facts and the now-retired Hardy Eustace five weeks ago should have blown away the cobwebs and champion trainer Willie Mullins will no doubt be hopeful for a return here to winning ways.
Ruby Walsh's mount is favourably treated under the conditions of this two-and-a-half-mile contest in receipt of 8lb from both last year's winner Hurricane Carter and recent Gowran Park victor Whinstone Boy.
Jimmy Mangan's mud-loving Whinstone Boy has been raised 12lb for his Thyestes Chase triumph a fortnight ago under Sean Flanagan and his proven fitness looks to make him the main threat to the favourite.
The Surehaul Mercedes Novice Hurdle is the main race of this session money-wise and the Mullins-Walsh partnership rely on Quadrillon in the hope of repeating their 2008 success with Cooldine.
French import Quadrillon, however, was an acute disappointment at Limerick following his initial jumping win in Cork and clearly has something to prove today against Glenstal Abbey and Quito De La Roque.
This pair dominated a similar Navan affair in early December, since which Quito De La Roque progressed again when runner-up also at Limerick to Quadrillon's unbeaten stable companion Enterprise Park over this trip.
Possibly more at home over the extra quarter mile here than his Navan conqueror Glenstal Abbey, Quito de La Roque could complete a double for owner Michael O'Leary, Colm Murphy and Davy Russell, whose Capitoline Hill might be up to landing the opening Fethard Maiden Hurdle.
In between, the Kilsheelan Novice Hurdle for mares looks tailor-made for the Michael Winters-trained For Bill to extend her winning sequence despite dropping back half a mile here in opposition to Killultagh Queen, which she had over 15 lengths in arrears in a Navan bumper last November.