Ruby can score with Kempes
Thurles this afternoon affords the connections of 'chasers, which have endured a marked lack of opportunities in recent weeks, the chance to get right back in the groove by staging a six-race card confined to the larger obstacles.
Never one to spurn an opportunity, champion trainer Willie Mullins sends Kempes and The Midnight Club to the Tipperary venue in search of better reward than defeats last month at Clonmel and Limerick.
In the opening Beginners Chase Ruby Walsh takes the reins once more on Kempes, which should profit both from a marked drop back in distance now and the experience gained on his seasonal return behind Tinakellylad.
Reverting to the minimum trip, Kempes, which prospered on the flat and over hurdles earlier in his career may have the edge in these conditions over See U Bob which has been absent since Galway last summer.
The latter, which wasn't mapped there behind Bahrain Storm, had scored in a decent handicap hurdle at Killarney last May on better going than he encounters today and will surely make his mark in time in his new role.
Placed at Cheltenham last March before winning at the Punchestown festival, sound stayer The Midnight Club was an early casualty when sent over fences at Limerick in the race won by Beckett Rock.
Bound to have been well schooled in the meantime, this constant partner of Willie's nephew Emmet won't be inconvenienced by the three miles of the Devil's Bit Beginners Chase and rates a leading player.
It will be interesting to see how Jagoes Mills fares after a promising return an injury sustained at Navan when a creditable third to Roberto Goldback and The Midnight Club's stable companion Cousin Vinny.
Earlier on the Beamish Stout Phil Sweeney Memorial Chase appears, on current ratings at least, to be at the mercy of Paul Nolan's Moskova, on which Ruby Walsh most recently won at Clonmel in the EBF TA Morris Memorial (Mares) Steeplechase in November.