Fogarty can be Des People's champion in Clonmel opener
Mikey Fogarty is trusted to deliver today's Clonmel nap when he partners Robin Des People in the opening maiden hurdle.
Trained by Fogarty's fellow Co Wexford native Liz Doyle, the five-year-old son of Robin Des Pres has displayed gradual progression since being beaten a long way on his bumper debut at Cork in January.
Fourth on his hurdle bow at Punchestown, he improved on that to fill the same spot in a better race behind Heck Thomas at Leopardstown.
On that occasion, Robin Des People was beaten only four-and-a-half lengths, and he might have got even closer had he enjoyed a clearer run turning in, as he didn't have the gears to make ground when he did get a run.
If he reproduces or builds on that sort of performance again, he ought to be good enough against pretty moderate opposition here.
Fogarty, who has had a solid season without yet regaining the momentum that he enjoyed prior to fracturing two vertebrae in a fall from Bishopsfurze in the Topham Chase at Aintree a year ago, might also take beginners' chase aboard Mary Louise Hallahan's Deano.
When Davy Russell suffered his bone-breaking fall from Feenakilmeedy at Gowran Park recently, he brought down Fogarty aboard Shuilamach.
Fogarty's mount was travelling quite sweetly at the time and the rider - oblivious to Russell's unfortunate fate - could be seeing thumping the ground repeatedly in frustration at the manner of their exit. He clearly felt it was an opportunity lost, but he steps in for the sidelined Russell now, so this might be the silver lining to that particular cloud.
Second in both of its chasing starts over two-and-a-quarter miles, Deano has forfeited a commanding position on each occasion. Tellingly, his only win has come over two miles, so he is fancied to get it right at the third time of asking now that he reverts to the minimum distance here.
Willie Mullins could depart with a pair of winners courtesy of his only runners if Nickname Exit and newcomer Myska click in the shorter maiden hurdle and the bumper respectively, while Make A Track is fancied for Gordon Elliott and Luke Dempsey in the conditions chase.
Successful at the course over hurdles in December, the son of Hernando is ideally suited by two-and-a-half miles in testing ground, so the Michael O'Leary-owned gelding should be in his element in this six-runner contest although the lightly-raced Gold Bullet could be a fly in the ointment.
Meanwhile, there is a strong Irish representation in the entries for this year's Scottish Grand National which includes the last two winners of the Ayr showpiece, Peter Bowen's Al Co and Alan King's Godsmejudge.
Gordon Elliott has included Cause Of Causes, though he has the Aintree National as his first priority. The Mullins-trained On His Own, runner-up in last year's Gold Cup, Jim Dreaper's Midlands Grand National hero Gooonyella, and the Steven Crawford-trained pair Glenquest and Yes Tom all feature in the initial list.