RUBY Walsh returns to action with two rides on the opening day of the Listowel Harvest Festival tomorrow -- just six weeks after fracturing an ankle at Galway.
The Kildare rider shouldn't be long getting back to a familiar routine, as Rattan -- his first spin in the Kerrymaid Hurdle -- will be very hard to beat. Seven go to post for the two-mile conditions race, but the Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old has bundles in hand on official ratings.
Successful over flights in testing ground at Tramore last month, Rattan should handle the soft to heavy going as well as anything. He was beaten in a Killarney handicap by Baily Green and Domination two weeks ago, but he still ran a fine race to be third, so that's enough to earn the vote.
Walsh takes the reins on Connaught Manor for Mullins in the following Charleville Cheese Maiden Hurdle. In an 18-runner affair, the ready Roscommon bumper winner has a better chance than most.
Still, Minella For Value, deeply impressive when splashing to victory in a Cork bumper in April, appeals as nap material. John Nallen's Old Vic gelding had previously won a Liscarroll point-to-point in style, and is fancied to confirm all that promise under Davy Russell in this three-miler.
Paddy Mangan, last year's champion conditional, returns from a three-month lay-off on Edward O'Grady's Dr Beaujolais, and he is also booked on his father Jimmy's Fair Dilemma in the Cheestrings Beginners' Chase. Second on his last two starts, Fair Dilemma has a real chance, likewise Cavite Beta and Cairdin.
However, Farrells Fancy gets the nod for Carrigtwohill handler Terence O'Brien. Successful at Tipperary in a solid hurdling campaign last year, Davy Condon's mount is a dual point-to-point winner that might just have a touch of class over fences.
With a €34,000 prize fund, the Dawn Milk Handicap Chase is the day's feature. Of the eight runners, few can boast recent form to advance their cause, with the notable exception of Denis Hogan's progressive Kalellshan.
A ready winner over hurdles at Galway, Kalellshan returned to fences with an emphatic win off the same 123 rating at Killarney. A 17lb hike means he has been hit hard by the handicapper for that, but he has the scope to match the challenge on what is only his fifth chasing start.
At Down Royal last night, the in-form Shane Foley recorded a 103/1 double with wins aboard Michael Halford's Honour And Obey in the fillies maiden and the Arthur Moore-trained Quinine in the opening two-year-old contest.