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Ally Cascade can capture Thurles opener for Meade

AS is often the case, the Willie Mullins stable and various representatives from the JP McManus and Gigginstown House Stud battalions look set to dominate proceedings at this afternoon's reconfigured Thurles programme.

The day gets under way with an intriguing clash between Irish jump racing's most pre-eminent forces, as the champion trainer introduces yet another French bumper-winning recruit in Urano. Successful in each of its three starts in the spring, the Enrique four-year-old has obvious potential, as does McManus' Speckled Wood.

The first progeny of the Limerick man's brilliant five-time Grade One winner Like-A-Butterfly to grace the racecourse, Speckled Wood is by none other than High Chaparral.

Time will tell if the debutante can live up to her pedigree, but it is Ally Cascade, the Noel Meade-trained Gigginstown nominee, that is preferred today.

A ready Fairyhouse bumper winner under Nina Carberry, Ally Cascade lost little in defeat when edged out by Jezki on its hurdling bow at Naas.

Indeed, when you consider that his conqueror bagged a stylish Grade Three victory at the same Kildare venue in the meantime, Davy Russell's mount appeals as nap material now.

The champion jockey is also taken to collect on Folsom Blue in the Rock Of Cashel Hurdle. In three starts here, Conor O'Dwyer's Old Vic five-year-old has won once and been second twice and he will come on for his subdued Navan reappearance.

Mullins' Touch The Eden, another French bumper winner that debuts for Rich Ricci, could be the one to beat under Paul Townend in the Munster Maiden Hurdle.

In the mares' edition, the trainer's son Patrick rides jumping debutante Annie Power and it's hard to envisage anything getting close to the unbeaten triple bumper winner.

McManus and Christy Roche might get in on the action with Short Grass in the handicap hurdle that the champion owner sponsors, while Dont Tell Pa can make it four-in-a-row for Jimmy and Jane Mangan in the preceding contest.

At Dundalk, Mick Halford and Conor Hoban could secure a handicap brace with Coach Bombay and Russian Soul, as Declan McDonogh has his first mount for the Aga Khan since being appointed as his retained rider in Ireland on Wednesday.

The 2006 champion jockey rides Daluka, a well-bred Dylan Thomas first-timer, in the juvenile maiden, and John Oxx's filly wouldn't need to be too special to seal the new arrangement with a win.

Irish Independent