TRAINER Charlie Swan knows that Start Me Up will need to show plenty of improvement if he is to claim Listed honours in the Surehaul Mercedes-Benz Novice Hurdle at Clonmel today.
The seven-year-old was firmly put in his place by the re-opposing Bishopsfurze at Thurles last month, but Start Me Up was victorious at this track in November. He has yet to finish outside the first three this season and Swan is hoping he can keep that run going.
"He has a bit to find with Bishopsfurze and obviously I would prefer it if he wasn't running," said Swan.
"I suppose we have at least won around the track, which is always a help. We're just hoping that he'll run well and if you're not in, you can't win.
"We can't just run away from one horse and there aren't that many opportunities for our horse, so we'll let him take his chance and see how we get on. He's a very consistent type, so I'm sure he'll run a good race."
Bishopsfurze is one of two runners for Willie Mullins, with the champion trainer also set to saddle Skorcher.
The Charles Byrnes-trained Fists Of Fury appears a major contender having chased home subsequent winner Gagewell Flyer at Naas last time, while Ballinahow Lady and recent point-to-point winner Caddy Man also feature among the eight participants.
Dessie Hughes' In Compliance will continue his Grand National preparations in the Kilcash Chase.
Although not the force of old, the 11-year-old ran with credit when fourth on his seasonal re-appearance at Tramore on New Year's Day.
The veteran ran sixth in the Topham Chase over Aintree's Grand National fences last April and he is set to return to Merseyside for the big one this time around.
"In Compliance is in good form. He's a National horse, he'll be going to Aintree -- that's the main aim for him," said Hughes.
In Compliance is one of eight declared runners, with Catch Me representing Edward O'Grady.
Mullins saddles Dooneys Gate, Tony Martin runs Northern Alliance, while Mr Warbucks, Glenfinn Captain, Mansony and Mossbank complete the field.
The Tommy Stack-trained Magen's Star was a decent filly on the Flat and looks likely to develop into a NH performer at least as good, judging by her impressive hurdling debut display.
She goes to post for the Kilsheelan Mares Novice Hurdle, in which she will have her credentials well and truly tested by Listed runner-up Belle Brook.