O'Brien's El Salvador looks the one to beat at Limerick
Inis meain is on a hat-trick as he returns to defend his title in the Martin Molony Stakes at Limerick this afternoon.
Denis Hogan's Barry Connell-owned seven-year-old gained an overdue hurdle triumph at Navan in February prior to recording an authoritative victory in a similar Listed race to this at the Curragh two weeks ago.
Today's mile-and-half €40,000 event is over two furlongs further, but he proved that he relishes this sort of trip when slamming Missunited here 12 months ago.
The danger now is that Inis Meain could set this up for El Salvador, which recently won for a second time over course and distance despite having to come off an unsuitably sedate gallop.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained five-year-old still had the quality to deny Cosmic Cannonball and Missunited, and it's worth noting that he wasn't beaten far when sixth in the Gold Cup in 2013.
If El Salvador runs to that standard again now, he is the one that they will all have to beat under the champion jockey Joseph O'Brien.
The Ballydoyle team aren't short of chances on what is a busy card, with Table Rock likely to start favourite in the opening maiden over a mile.
Preferred in that, though, is Kevin Prendergast's Maskoon. Fifth on its track bow at Leopardstown in March, the Aklam three-year-old progressed to push Boqa all the way when ultimately denied by just a quarter-of-a-length at Tipperary nine days ago.
He may not need to do an awful lot more to collect here under Chris Hayes. Missunited's handler Mick Winters could get on the score sheet with the Connor King-ridden Silver Chief in the concluding handicap, while Afternoon Sunlight and Hellenistic both look to hold live chances for the irresistible Dermot Weld-Pat Smullen axis in their respective heats.
In the Great Limerick Run Maiden, Yava has considerable appeal for Weld's fellow Curragh-based colleague Richard Brabazon.
Fran Berry's mount is a son of Invincible Spirit and the 2007 French St Leger heroine Allegretto, and he shaped promisingly when third on his recent debut at Dundalk.
Geraghty scores again
Macnicholson made the most of what looked a fine opportunity to get off the mark in Kilbeggan yesterday evening.
Barry Geraghty settled the five-year-old in second place before pushing him clear on the run to the second-last, and Jessie Harrington's 8/13 favourite ran on strongly to end a sequence of seconds by beating Phil's Magic by four and a half lengths.
Dessie Hughes put a winner on the scoreboard when Sugar Bullet (4/1) broke her duck over fences in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Beginners Chase in the hands of Mark Enright.