Rattan to lose maiden tag and set up Mullins double
The Cheltenham Festival-winning partnership of Willie Mullins and his nephew Emmet team up twice at Clonmel this afternoon, and both horses will take plenty beating.
Rattan, their representative in the first division of the two-mile maiden hurdle, is attempting to lose his maiden status at the fourth time of asking. Previously successful on the flat in a Newmarket maiden for Henry Cecil, the Royal Anthem gelding has improved for each of his jumping starts, though he was mildly disappointing when failing to justify favouritism last time.
On that occasion, he stayed on for second behind Flemenstar. A mistake three out didn't help his chance and it's of note that the fourth home, Baily Green, has since won. In an ordinary contest, Rattan will be hard to beat if he continues to progress.
Killultagh Queen is the champion trainer's only other runner on the seven-race programme in the mares' beginners chase. The presence of Jessica Harrington's useful No One Tells Me will keep Killultagh Queen honest, but Mullins' mare still ought to be good enough.
Without a win since landing a hurdle at Limerick in December 2009, the daughter of King's Theatre has finished second on each of her four subsequent completed starts. For all that, though, she doesn't appear ungenuine and is due her turn now.
Mouse Morris' Shane Rock, third behind Kilflora and Killultagh Queen at Thurles two weeks ago, is also taken to frank that particular form line in the concluding beginners' event. A 120-rated hurdler at his peak, Shane Rock jumped well and ran with some promise on what was his fencing debut.
The opening maiden hurdle, which goes off at 4.35, could go the way of recent Navan bumper runner-up Memories Of Milan, while Brookville gets the nod in the mares' handicap hurdle. Paul Cashman's charge is in off a light weight with first-time blinkers.