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Double Irish can prove the toast of Clonmel for Elliott

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Double Irish, being ridden by Davy Russell

Double Irish, being ridden by Davy Russell

SPORTSFILE

Double Irish, being ridden by Davy Russell

Clonmel will attempt to host its Surehaul Mercedes-Benz Novice Hurdle for a third time today, though the chases scheduled for this card have already been abandoned due to parts of the track being waterlogged.

If the meeting goes ahead, the featured Grade Three novices' hurdle promises to be a cracking affair, with Very Wood the main defection from last week's field. The race distance has also been upped from two miles and six furlongs to three miles, so it represents an even greater step up in trip for horses like Double Irish, Railway Zira, Shantou Ed and The Winkler, which have been winning over two.

Don Poli and The Job Is Right are proven over further. The latter Michael Hourigan-trained top-weight is interesting ahead of a tilt at the four-miler at Cheltenham, but preference is for Gordon Elliott's Barry Connell-owned Double Irish.

After a couple of disappointing turns, the Kings Theatre six-year-old began to fulfil its earlier promise at Leopardstown over Christmas, slamming two smart subsequent hurdle winners in Champagne James and Quickpick Vic, as well as recent Dundalk scorer Defining Year. It was a hugely commanding performance, so Danny Mullins' mount appeals as nap material now, despite facing some above average opposition.

Grade One-winning chaser Rubi Light has his first start over hurdles for four years in a conditions hurdle. He couldn't be discounted in a tricky contest that also sees the return of Colm Murphy's useful The Westerner Boy after over a year on the sidelines.

However, this could be a decent opportunity for Willie Mullins' Perfect Gentleman. Another son of top sire King's Theatre which has been a late developer, the nine-year-old pecked badly at the last flight when pipped by Gallant Tipp on his seasonal bow at Thurles in November. If he steps up on that, he could go very close here.

Rodger and Colman Sweeney could take the two-mile maiden hurdle with Daliyan, while their equally accomplished Co Cork colleagues Jimmy and Jane Mangan get the nod in the bumper with Perfect Promise. Second in its last two bumper starts, the daughter of Presenting should have the ability to win this relative modest affair.

Irish Independent