Vroum Vroum a plum spare ride for Willie Mullins
This afternoon's Naas spread must ultimately play second fiddle on the domestic front this weekend to tomorrow's feast in Foxrock, but the Kildare venue serves up a couple of tantalising treats of its own.
First up, there is the intriguing clash between Vroum Vroum Mag and Whatwillwecallher in the BBA Ireland Ltd Opera Hat Mares' Chase.
Is Herself About, Jacksonslady and Kates Benefit complete the line-up for this €20,000 affair, and the most surprising aspect is that neither Ruby Walsh nor Paul Townend eschewed their respective forays to England to partner the talented six-year-old.
Maybe Willie Mullins didn't give them that option, but the net result is that his nephew, Danny, falls in for a peach of a spare. Philip Enright is also filling in for AP McCoy aboard Robert Tyner's JP McManus-owned Whatwillwecallher, though the 19-time champion was always going to prioritise Newbury given his rides there.
Tyner produced one of the training performances of the season to get Whatwillwecallher in such mean shape ahead of her first outing for more than three years when the Old Vic mare hacked up on her chasing debut here last month.
The triple-bumper and hurdle-winning 10-year-old left you wondering what might have been with that comprehensive triumph, and she surely has it within her locker to shake up Vroum Vroum Mag now, with an eight-pound pull at the weights not to be sniffed at.
Still, Vroum Vroum Mag is hard to oppose. In three starts for Mullins, she has looked utterly superior, her latest 26-length Thurles rout bringing her aggregate winning distance to 40 lengths. There is no limit to what she might be able to achieve, so she is fancied to maintain her unbeaten run.
The champion trainer and his nephew combine for Blood Cotil in a superb two-mile beginners' chase. Tavern Times will try to emulate Whatwillwecallher by making a successful start to his chasing career on his bow for Charles Byrnes having not run since 2011, with Davy Russell reunited with the son of Presenting that won three hurdles and a bumper for Tom Mullins.
Art Of Payroll and Viconte Du Noyer are other contenders, but preference is for Gilt Shadow. Stuart Crawford's smart seven-year-old had Apache Jack stone cold when he crashed out at the final fence under Andrew Lynch at Navan last month, so he would be a deserving winner.
Mullins' ready Thurles victor Pylonthepressure gets the nod to shade the bumper from Gordon Elliott's smooth Leopardstown winner Space Cadet, while Aengus appeals as nap material in the maiden hurdle.
Noel Meade's Robin Des Champs gelding won a Fairyhouse bumper in deep ground over two-and-a-quarter miles, and he was simply one-paced over two miles when third to Alvisio Ville on his hurdle bow. If Aengus improves for the step back up to two miles and three furlongs here, he will be hard to beat under Paul Carberry.
Mouse Morris' Baily Cloud has frustrated since finishing second in the same race, so he is opposed with Sandra Hughes' likeable Phil's Magic in the two-mile maiden.