Mullins hoping to dominate at Cork
WILLIE MULLINS' unrelenting bandwagon heads south to Cork from its Closutton base this afternoon with four live chances from as many runners.
In the McCarthy Insurance Group Hurdle, a race that has been won by Kicking King, Bostons Angel and Sublimity in recent years, the champion trainer relies on Final Approach.
Last season's MCR and County Hurdle winner returned to action in the Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse, when he made much of the running before tiring behind Voler La Vedette. That was a fair effort in top-class company, and Ruby Walsh's mount won't need to improve much to score over a shorter two-mile journey here that will probably suit better.
Of the selection's five rivals, Leave Him Alone is the most promising, but the Kevin O'Sullivan-trained bumper and maiden hurdle victor has questions to answer after a poor show last time at Thurles in late November.
Mullins and Walsh can also land the nap with Simenon in the five-year-olds' maiden hurdle.
Like Final Approach, this one is expected to benefit from a drop in trip, having travelled nicely before finding less than might have been expected when fifth to Mississippi River on his jumping bow over two and a quarter miles at the same Fairyhouse meeting.
On that occasion, Simenon raced keenly early on in a race that has since been shown in a positive light by the three horses that finished directly in front of him all winning.
This afternoon's two-miler does feature a few other potentially useful sorts such as 'point' winner Moyaliff and dual Flat scorer Top Spin, but Simenon is the horse to beat. In the following maiden, Mullins' Not For Converting is opposed with Valleymount.
Francis Flood's mare landed a bumper here last year, and has performed well without winning in the meantime. If she takes to jumping, she has the class required to compete under Mark Walsh.
By The Hour and Lonesome Dove are two other mares fancied to collect. The first-named has a favourable hurdling mark in the opening handicap for Robert Tyner, while Charlie Swan's Lonesome Dove is primed for the beginners' chase after flashing home in third at Limerick.