'Apache' returns but Bachasson to take Thurles scalp for Mullins
Apache Stronghold makes a welcome return to action in the Listed Chase at Thurles today.
Noel Meade's Grade One winner has spent plenty of time on the sidelines since chasing home Vautour in the 2015 JLT Novices' Chase, falling in the Ryanair Gold Cup and finishing third at the Punchestown Festival that year.
If he needs the run, all four of his rivals in this Listed advantage are capable of taking advantage - not least Willie Mullins' Bachasson and the Andrew McNamara-trained top-weight Val De Ferbet.
The field is completed by Gordon Elliott's pair Charmix and Lieutenant Colonel.
Mullins starts Asthuria off over fences in the Mares Beginners' Chase. The six-year-old had her jumping issues over the smaller obstacles but she is a class act when she puts it all together - as she proved when running away with a Listed affair when last seen.
Stable companion Ainsi Va La Vie makes her second appearance over timber in the Mares Maiden Hurdle.
The grey rounded out a bumper hat-trick with a win in Listed company at Gowran Park, but blotted her copybook when only third on her jumping bow at Galway.
Nellie Pledge makes a swift return for the Novice Hurdle. Brian Cawley's charge was fifth in the Listed event won by Forge Meadow at Punchestown last weekend and has her sights lowered notably.
She gets 10lb from Burren Life, which also competed at Listed level when last seen, taking third at Limerick.
Eiri Na Casca, which won comprehensively over fences here recently, reverts to a Handicap Hurdle off an 18lb lower mark than his revised chasing figure.
Plenty of the big stables are represented in the Holycross Flat Race, with Gun Digger, Mad Carew and Rio Vivas of particular interest.