On a day when the champion trainer’s other runner Kalmann will have Ruby Walsh on board in the Kilsheelan Beginners Chase, both Pink Hat and Turnandgo set the standard in their respective maiden hurdles and should prove very tough to beat.
Turnandgo, winner of two bumpers last season, on this track and at the Punchestown Festival, where he slammed Nicky Henderson’s Captan Cutter (already successful over hurdles at Kempton), will be sent off at a prohibitive price and cannot be opposed in the finale, the Next Meeting February 8th Maiden Hurdle, won last year by stable companion Ballycasey.
Sent off an odds-on favourite for his hurdling debut at Naas last month, Turnandgo hit the front at the second last and looked an assured winner at the back of the last obstacle, before being swamped by the fast-finishing The Tullow Tank, which came through to triumph by a length and a half.
That form received a huge boost when The Tullow Tank captured Sunday’s Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle in Fairyhouse, emphasising the potential gulf between Turnandgo and today’s rivals.
Pink Hat, unbeaten in her two bumpers, having scored at Kilbeggan and Wexford, won’t be as short a price as Turnandgo, faces a couple of possible dangers but should make a winning start over hurdles in the opening Irish Stallion farms Mares Maiden Hurdle.
This daughter of Presenting beat subsequent Listowel winner Angel Chorus in a winners’ event at Wexford and, although set to concede weight to her 16 rivals, should do the business again.
Four-year-old Kalmann will be having only his second run for Mullins when facing five older rivals in the Kilsheelan Beginners Chase.
Successful in his third and final start in his native France, Kalmann finished 13th behind Flaxen Flare when making his debut for the Mullins team in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival.
Sure to know his job and receiving 11lb. from his rivals, he must be fully respected, but might not cope with the experienced 127-rated Golanbrook, fourth behind Road To Riches and subsequent winner Foxrock at Naas last time.