Thurles showpiece can see another Premier Victory
Thurles Racecourse appears set to proceed as planned this afternoon with the first of its two-day sessions despite hurling at nearby Semple Stadium having fallen victim to sudden snowfalls twice in four days.
Just under 6mm of rain on Tuesday night -- less than half the amount which was recorded at Leopardstown -- should not compromise today's eight-race card which has been well supported.
There's some quality performers on view also, principally in the featured Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle with six of the eight acceptors having scored on their most recent outings. Nenagh-based Tom Hogan will be hopeful of Premier Victory completing a hat-trick in this Grade Two contest.
While it is 102 days since John Cullen's mount was last seen in public, she won at the minimum distance at Down Royal and then over an extra mile in Cork.
The six-year-old resumes over an intermediate trip on this occasion and could prove too strong for the likes of Western Leader and Rick as well as Kerb Appeal. Western Leader's trainer John Hanlon is hoping to run his charge in one of the big novice hurdles at Aintree in April and expects a big run here.
"It looks a very good race, but he's in great form," said Hanlon. "He was very good when he won at Leopardstown over Christmas. We've had a lot of rain and I'd be hopeful of a big run. The plan has always been to go to Aintree."
Hanlon has a prime candidate for the following Killinan Maiden Hurdle as Misala was unfortunate to encounter both the undefeated Enterprise Park and Saludos late last year.
That level of form over timber has earned Misala a rating of 108 which would normally suffice for victory here even if Adrian Maguire's 'points' winner Good Time Donie was a promising third at Punchestown recently.
The same applies even more to Siberian Tiger off a mark of 117 in the Holy Cross Maiden Hurdle despite Tony Martin's charge not having run over jumps since Listowel last September.
Having stayed on well to lead in the pack behind Tilabay at the Kingdom venue, there's every chance that Ruby Walsh can guide Martin's charge to victory over The Big Mosquito with the aid of cheekpieces.
Galway trainer Pauline Gavin and Andrew McNamara could combine to take the honours of the day courtesy of Ad Idem (Cashel Maiden Hurdle) and Benalma which reverts to smaller obstacles in the Littleton Handicap Hurdle.
Ad Idem is napped to improve upon his Navan second to Mr Cracker by outpacing Lady Roberta over this longer trip, at which Benalma succeeded in a handicap hurdle at the Meath track.