Zaidpour can keep up Mullins' red-hot streak at Thurles
ZAIDPOUR is the latest high-profile member of Willie Mullins' formidable team to re-appear as the champion trainer's relentless offensive moves on to Thurles.
Last year's Royal Bond Novice Hurdle winner faces just four rivals in the Rock Of Cashel Hurdle this afternoon, one of which is Martin Lynch's Oscar Time. The Sam Waley-Cohen-ridden 10-year-old concluded the previous campaign by finishing a gallant second in the Aintree Grand National.
The horse now has the unfortunate distinction of having done so in both the English and Irish Grand Nationals. While he can be expected to show up well, a return to Liverpool in April is no doubt top of the agenda for Oscar Time once again.
Kevin O'Sullivan's improving Leave Him Alone may be a greater threat to Zaidpour, but would need to have progressed rapidly since scoring in maiden company at Galway to stand any real chance.
Although the mud-loving Zaidpour failed to win in his three starts after his facile Grade One triumph at Fairyhouse last term, he filled the runner-up berth on two of those occasions at the same level behind First Lieutenant and then Oscars Well.
He was then a respectable seventh on much better ground in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham, so it is quite hard to see past him in this company under Ruby Walsh.
Mullins and Walsh can also take the Glen Chase with Apt Approach. The highest-rated of the seven runners in the race, Apt Approach made unlucky late exits at Punchestown and Killarney in May and a clear round here should enable him to go one better than when he finished in second spot 12 months ago.
In the beginners' chase, Mullins' Bishopsfurze will push for favouritism, but Rathlin is preferred at the third time of asking. A slightly disappointing but still an improved second here a week ago, Mouse Morris' attractive sort should strip fitter again now.
Jolily is likewise fancied to build on his runner-up finish at last week's fixture in the Martinstown Opportunity Chase.
This is not a great heat despite the 13-strong field, and the three-mile trip should favour Tim Doyle's representative, as he kept on all the way to the line over two furlongs shorter seven days ago.
The day's nap selection is Chaperoned in the mares' maiden hurdle. Jessica Harrington's four-year-old was a shade below par behind Jacksonslady in Listed company at Punchestown last month, but faces far less potent opposition here.