Pleasant Company to land spoils for Mullins and Walsh
Pleasant Company is trusted to give Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh another feature race success on the final leg of Fairyhouse's sun-kissed Easter Festival this afternoon.
The €55,000 three-mile handicap hurdle that the Presenting seven-year-old contests for the all-conquering duo is as competitive as it should be, with the 17-runner field comprising a full two-stone handicap spread.
On what is likely to be his very last day competing in his homeland, AP McCoy will partner Eoin Griffin's Rathpatrick for JP McManus, with Noel Meade's first-time blinkered Heck Thomas also set to sport McManus' silks, as will Tom Mullins' Punchestown scorer Oscar Knight.
Meade could also have a say with the Paul Carberry-ridden Aengus, a smart son of Robin Des Champs that got off the mark over flights in decent style at Naas in February.
Mullins' top-weight Vedettariat is one of five other recent winners on duty, so this has the makings of a cracking contest.
However, we were reminded only last week of the brilliant champion trainer's knack of improving recruits from other stables, and the Malcolm Denmark-owned Pleasant Company could fall into that bracket.
On the one hand, you wouldn't imagine that David Pipe would leave too much to spare on anything, but this horse has bundles of scope to progress regardless of where he is stabled.
A Laurencetown point-to-point winner in Co Galway two years ago, he went on to land an Ascot bumper impressively on his debut for Pipe that November. He has run just three times since, most recently when fourth to Fletchers Flyer at Ascot in November.
There is no doubt that he has to make considerable improvement to figure here, but the suspicion is that he has the scope to do so off a first-time mark of 120, which could yet prove to be extremely lenient.
McCoy will be on his Galway Hurdle-winning partner Thomas Edison for Tony Martin in the €50,000 two-mile Tote-sponsored contest that follows.
The eight-year-old is 12lbs higher than when he slammed Bayan at Ballybrit last summer, so this won't be easy on his first run since then under top weight.
In a race that he has won twice in the last three years, Mullins has live chances with the unlucky County Hurdle faller Lucky Bridle and Clondaw Warrior, while Joseph O'Brien has a decent opportunity to erase the memory of Sunday's last-flight spill aboard his father Aidan's Draco.
Seventh in the Boylesports Hurdle at Leopardstown in January, the son of Hernando is a smart novice that should have a big say under 10st 5lb.
The horse that appeals most, though, is Sizing Codelco. Henry de Bromhead's Jonathan Burke-ridden representative won its maiden hurdle here last year. He has been mixing it over hurdles and fences this term, finishing second to Zabana at Navan on his latest start at the end of January.
Zabana went on to be just denied off a British mark of 144 in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham, so Sizing Codelco must be a player here off 130 for 10st 10lb.
Pat Fahy and David Casey get the nod to take the Boylesports Handicap Chase that follows with Thelobstercatcher, while Mallowney should complete a hat-trick in the Normans Grove Chase.
A disappointing field of just three will line out for this €40,000 Grade Two, with Twinlight and Savello the other two. It could be nonetheless intriguing, but, if Mallowney runs to the level that he has been doing in similar conditions this season, he will take plenty stopping for Tim Doyle and Paul Carberry.
In the bumper, Mullins' An Dearg Mor is the nap selection under the trainer's son Patrick. The son of Robin Des Champs was a little unlucky to be caught by the fast-finishing Golan Lodge on his bow here in February.