Major Vernon can keep Walsh in winning groove

THE National Hunt season in Ireland has made a smashing start and Clonmel this afternoon keeps the trend going, housing a decent programme.

Ruby Walsh, setting a scorching pace at the top of the jockeys’ championship, looks very much the pilot to follow and the notion he might leave Tipperary empty-handed seems almost ludicrous!

He partners Major Vernon in the first division of the Cashel Maiden Hurdle and Willie Mullins’ inmate will be hard to beat.

Major Vernon took a bumper first time of asking at Thurles, then cut little ice at Cheltenham, before getting back on the winning trail by landing a decent 19-runner affair at the Punchestown Festival.

The second section of the same contest is also best left to the Walsh-Mullins combination with Our Ben.

Successful in a Limerick bumper, he too made little show at Cheltenham and then rounded off his campaign when only eighth to Major Vernon at Punchestown.

But the best of this imposing gelding was never going to be seen until he went jumping and Our Ben looks worth supporting!

A third Walsh-Mullins possibility is Jasmin d’Oudairies in the Wilderness ’Chase. He is the highest rated horse in the contest and there was plenty to like about his reappearance, third to Carneys Cross and Old Kilminchy in a Naas handicap last month.

Walsh teams up with Euro Flyer, who performed well enough on this track last time, for Michael Hourigan in the Powerstown Desmene Handicap Hurdle and the top weight has a better chance than most, in a moderate event.

The highlight of the day, however, should be the clash of Kahuna and Scarthy Lad in the Irish Stallion Farms’ Beginners ’Chase.

Kahuna was heavily-backed to make a winning debut over fences at Roscommon and appeared full of running when falling three out, contest won by Always.

Shay Barry’s mount gets preference, but Scarthy Lad, a horse who has shown in the past he goes well fresh and who was a high class hurdler, is greatly feared.

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