Mullins unveils Bachasson at Thurles
Bachasson, one of the smartest two-mile novice hurdlers Willie Mullins had last season, begins his campaign chasing at Thurles today.
Edward O'Connell's charge unseated in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham meeting but he was mainly kept to the minimum trip beforehand, going down by a neck around a year ago in the Grade One Royal Bond.
He is quite ground-versatile and should take the opening maiden chase, with useful hurdler Tully East a possible threat. However, Tully East's trainer Alan Fleming has not visited the winner's enclosure since May.
Miss Me Now, a stablemate of the selection, will surely take all the beating in the mares' hurdle. She got a truly sublime ride from Ruby Walsh to score at Clonmel last month. Beating Vigil and Sanibel Island on that occasion would suggest she is the form choice here, a belief backed up by the ratings.
Miss Me Now is a type to find a nice bit for a drive. Perhaps Kalopsia, which ran a bit laboured at Dundalk most recently, will chase her home.
The handicap chase is a tricky contest, with Smadynium - which is owned by a syndicate involving a few Roscommon footballers - bidding for a hat-trick. However, a chance is taken on Betterthanalright.
Rider Sean Flanagan, having such a smashing season thanks to Noel Meade, takes the ride on this seasonal debutant. He was a winner at Thurles nearly two years ago and is well treated if he can show his hand.
Gordon Elliott, closing in on €2m in prize-money for the season in Ireland alone, is showing no sign of relenting at the top of the trainers' table. This is becoming a captivating duel between Elliott and Mullins.
Elliott could take the Cahir Maiden Hurdle with Hardline. Preference is for the Meade-trained Up The Town. This one ought to be better-suited to maiden hurdles than bumpers, in which he failed to get home.
Mullins could narrow the gap at the top of the standings when Aussie Reigns contests the Holycross Maiden Hurdle. There is virtually nothing between this one and Valgor Du Ronceray in form terms, with the last-named given the nod.
One of the more intriguing betting races of the day is the Templemore Handicap Hurdle. Neddyvaughan ended a frustrating run by scoring last week at Thurles, while Canny Tom bids to do the same. There is not much to choose between them but Neddyvaughan won snugly and 6lb may not stop him now he seems to have found his trip.
A poor concluding event may go to Returntovendor.