Ruby and Rubi can be winning team on first run for Mullins
The Irish debut of triple Grade-One winner Rubi Ball adds a touch of glamour to what was already an interesting card at Thurles this afternoon.
Willie Mullins usually has to spend big money on his precocious French imports, but Rubi Ball is slightly different, as he is an eight-year-old that has been sent to him for a change of scenery.
Conqueror of Gold Cup hero Long Run in an Auteuil Grade One in 2009, the son of Network has become frustrating since winning successive races at Pau in January of 2012.
Today, he tackles six rivals in the Rock Of Cashel Hurdle under Ruby Walsh, and he receives 10lb from the three that would be considered his most potent dangers.
Given his class, you'd have to take a chance on him being sweet enough to exploit that concession.
Foildubh is probably Rubi Ball's chief threat. John Ryan's Paul Carberry-ridden nine-year-old was a decent second in the north over flights on his penultimate start and ran another sound race when fifth to Arvika Ligeonniere at Clonmel over fences at Clonmel last time.
Walsh is also trusted to land the day's nap aboard Lord Of Lords in the concluding maiden hurdle.
A stylish bumper victor at Navan for Stuart Crawford in March 2012, the Flemensfirth gelding ran well in defeat when fourth behind Bright New Dawn, Ned Buntline and Mala Beach on his maiden hurdle debut for Edward O'Grady at Fairyhouse a year ago. If he brushes up on his jumping and reproduces that performance, he should be good enough for this.
Walsh has the aid of a hood to get the free-running Lucky Bridle to settle in the earlier maiden, but preferred as a more dependable option in that is Horendus Hulabaloo.
Mouse Morris' Gigginstown Stud-owned four-year-old chased home Lots Of Memories in a fair Cork Grade Three last time. With Hurricane Sky, The Winkler and Yes Sir Brian in this 18-runner affair, it is a proper maiden, but Andrew Lynch's mount has the class to prevail.
Lynch, who is deputising for the suspended Davy Russell, can initiate a brace in the maroon and white silks when he rides the Charlie Swan-trained Make A Track in the Glen Chase. Just four vie for the €8,000 winner's purse in this three-miler, and Make A Track's reappearance second to White Star Line at Clonmel confirmed that he is one to keep on side.
The action kicks off with the Killinan Beginners Chase and while Noel Meade's Il Fenomeno is likely to start favourite, Redera is a value alternative in the belief that Tony Martin's charge will relish the underfoot conditions.