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For Bill can help Russell rule the roost at Thurles

This afternoon's otherwise pretty ordinary Thurles meeting could provide a boost to Davy Russell, who has invariably ended recent campaigns as runner-up to Ruby Walsh, in his efforts to win the season's senior jockeys' title if he manages to dominate the session.

The Cork pilot travels to the Tipperary venue on the 41-winner mark, eight adrift of current joint-leaders Paul Carberry and Andrew McNamara, with defending champion Walsh, who may not be returning from injury for close on another month, on a score of 30.

Three behind Walsh's understudy Paul Townend as well, Russell should be the rider to follow today as he's booked to partner prime market fancies in each of the first four races, with Donie Sheahan's multiple scorer For Bill napped to land the Beginners Chase for mares.

Although a beaten favourite on her last two outings, behind Our Girl Salley in a Leopardstown hurdle after being outpaced by Blazing Tempo over fences at Clonmel, the daughter of Presenting still looks a tempting wager on this occasion when dropping markedly in class.

For Bill's trainer Mick Winters also saddles the progressive Clever Creation, which ultimately led in the pack behind runaway winner Morning Supreme in Cork, and could reach the frame again in common with Tramore and Fairyhouse runners-up Bobs Display and Catleen.

The preceding Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase over the minimum trip will most likely place the emphasis on finishing pace rather than stamina, and that might prove to be the trump card for Russell's in-form mount Big Secret from the Charles Byrnes stable.

This lightly raced Zilzal gelding comfortably accounted for last Saturday's Punchestown victor Luddsdenene when opening his jumping account at Limerick a fortnight ago and should have greater scope for improvement than Philip Fenton's 126-rated Son Of Oscar.

An official mark of 130 for Tony Martin's stayer Saddlers Storm on his seasonal return for Russell in the Tote Jackpot Rollover Chase highlighting this fixture's bonus of €12,399 that went abegging at Leopardstown last Sunday suggests he's a must for inclusion in permutations.

Proven over the course and distance, Indifference Curve rather than Jim Dreaper's veteran Retrievethelegend or Old Si could profit most if Saddlers Storm comes up short.

Russell then switches his attention to the Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle over the same distance in which he scored for the Charlie Swan yard on the favourite Cool Dude Luke a year ago, with every prospect of managing a repeat victory from the same quarter.

Unless acute Naas disappointment Bishopsfurze bounces back to form here for Paul Townend, the Russell-partnered Start Me Up, which only went down by a whisker to Knockfierna at Limerick, is entitled to preference over another Cork maiden hurdle scorer Profit Margin.

Tom Hogan's course bumper winner Shannon Spirit is preferred in the following maiden hurdle and her much more favourable mark over the smaller obstacles can be exploited by Colin Kidd's Back Of The Pack in the Jackpot finale.

Irish Independent