Mullins - Clear round the priority
Willie Mullins insists a clear round is the priority for Mikael D'Haguenet when he makes his eagerly-anticipated return at Fairyhouse on Wednesday.
Unbeaten in six starts over hurdles since joining the champion trainer, including three times at the top level, he makes his first start over fences in Ireland in the Grade One contest. The six-year-old has been sidelined since May of last year and his return has been delayed due to the multiple cancellations of this meeting.
Mullins is delighted with his exciting gelding's condition and wants to see him jump well and come home safely on his first start for almost 600 days.
The trainer said: "We're taking a chance running in this race, but it's just the way everything has happened this year. I'm hoping he gets a clear round and that would be the priority. If he can run well after that, then I'll be very pleased.
"Everything is all right with him and we're happy with where he's at, but a trouble-free round is the main thing we want."
Gordon Elliott is pleased with his recent Galway winner Jessies Dream and hopes to find out more about what level he is up to competing at.
Elliott said: "He hasn't missed a whole lot of work and he's in good form. Mikael D'Haguenet has been off for a while but he looks the one we all have to beat. It's a step up for us but we need to find out if he's going to be up to Grade One level. He's in good form and he's well, so we're hoping for a big run from him."
Noel Meade's Realt Dubh has won two of his three starts since turning his attentions to fences and the Tu Van handler is anticipating a bold show.
Meade said: "We're very happy with him. We've always liked this horse and we always thought he'd be better over fences. So far he has been doing OK. He's won two and fell in Galway, but I don't think that was all his fault as the sun cast a shadow over the fence that day. We're hoping for a clear round and then he should put up a good show."
John Kiely saddles multiple winner Head Of The Posse, while other notable contenders among the 10 declared include Cheltenham Festival winner Berties Dream and the Colm Murphy-trained Quito De La Roque.