'Chit Chat' can do the talking for De Bromhead and Russell
No matter what Last Man Standing achieves in today's featured Grade Three Novice Hurdle (2.50) at Clonmel, trainer Mouse Morris expects his charge to improve with age describing him as "next year's horse".
Having comfortably opened his account over hurdles in Thurles at the fourth attempt, the Sue Magnier-owned five-year-old steps up in class in an intriguing six-runner contest at the south Tipperary track with Morris already playing the long game.
"He's a long-term project, next year's horse. I wanted to step him up a gear, but only gradually and there are not too many places to go. He's a nice horse, but it's a big thing going from his race the last day into a Grade Three," he said.
One to keep in the notebook for future reference but others are preferred. Moonshine Bay is likely to relish the extra distance for the in-form partnership of Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power but CHRIS'S DREAM could be the best option.
Having switched to Henry de Bromhead, the six-year-old is expected to continue his upward curve having finished strongly in the straight to score at Limerick in December. The three-mile trip will take some getting but the stamina test will suit and Mark Walsh's mount can score.
Rescheduled after last week's abandonment, today's seven-race card gets underway with a mares' maiden hurdle (1.50) which should see impressive dual point-to-point winner TELL ME ANNIE build on her Punchestown debut third for Waterford trainer Declan Queally and amateur rider Adam Short.
Davy Russell - streaking ahead in this year's Irish jump jockeys' championship - is likely to add to his impressive tally aboard MONBEG CHIT CHAT in the beginners chase (3.55), providing De Bromhead's charge can put his best foot forward following a two-month break.
Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins are fighting it out for the Irish trainers' championship and are barring a major surprise, the pair are likely to dominate the concluding beginners chase (5.0) with the less exposed AUGUSTIN slightly preferred over Elliott's Fire In His Eyes.