Fontaine can pass stiffest test to date

WILLIE MULLINS, fresh from another excellent afternoon at Downpatrick yesterday, can keep the momentum going with Quiscover Fontaine in the featured Grade 2 Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle at Thurles today.

The progressive gelding is seeking a four-timer, but this is easily his stiffest test to date.

Truth to tell he hasn’t been overly impressive in any of his successes to date, scrambling to narrow victories over Kandari at Gowran Park, Alpine Eagle at Limerick and Alice Bradys Call, also at Limerick.

In Clan Tara, Donnas Palm and Caim Hill he faces far better horses than those rivals, but the key is the fact Quiscover Fontaine now steps up in trip.

All three of his wins have come over an inadequate two miles and the five-year-old is fancied to come into his own over two and a half for the first time.

Mullins’ Tawaagg should be hard to beat in the 18-runner Holy Cross Maiden Hurdle. He had his first outing for the trainer on this track two weeks ago and was a decidedly unlucky loser.

Tawaagg seemed to have the contest in safe keeping for most of the straight, but Ruby Walsh had to switch him at the last, a slight error followed, and the fast-finishing selection failed by a short head to reel in Herkel.

If the handicapper is right then Carthalawn will make short work of his rivals in the Cashel Chase.

He was raised 14lbs for beating Schindlers Hunt at Naas on Sunday and, as a result, has very much the best of the weights.

It remains to be seen if the handicapper has over-reacted, however, with preference for Mullins’ Irish Invader, 12lbs wrong, who has shown his liking for this track in the past.

The nap vote falls on Michael Cunningham’s Rock Diplomat in the Ballycahill colts and geldings Beginners Chase.

He’s had his problems, but indicated a little contest such as this was well within his compass when third to Oscar Time and Good Fella at Fairyhouse.

The frustrating Judge Roy Bean has a big edge in experience on Jessies Dream in the Thurles Racecourse Maiden Hurdle and gets a final chance.

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