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Thurles: Mullins in for the Kill

By Damien McElroy

Top trainer Willie Mullins isn't one to rest on his laurels and, with the dust barely settled on another successful Cheltenham campaign, he brings a strong hand to Thurles for today's eight-race card at the Tipperary venue.

Mullins saddles Killultagh Queen in the first race of the day, the Templemore Beginners Chase, and with a bumper and a hurdles win already under her belt it's hard to see where the opposition will come from over the bigger obstacles.

Killultagh Queen failed narrowly last time out in a beginners chase at Fairyhouse and any natural improvement could see her take the spoils.

For The Staff, another Mullins inmate, is also in with a shout in the Cashel Beginners Chase, although he will need to show a little more form to beat Our Gar, a useful performer over hurdles but taking to fences for the first time.

And after finishing second twice over hurdles, Popcorn is another which could feature strongly for the Mullins yard in the Holy Cross Maiden Hurdle.

Funatfuntasia, which looks best of the rest, was a useful Flat horse and can improve further from his outings over hurdles so far.

Much of the day's attention is likely to be focused on the the Moycarkey Hurdle, where Mullins is not represented, but all eyes will be on Ainm Spartacus.

Kieran Purcell's charge makes a quick reappearance after blowing away his rivals at Limerick two weeks ago to rack up a second success in his last three starts.

Man In Black for Gerard O'Leary and Launchpad, which was a maiden winner on the level and ran into third at Gowran last month, are likely to be closest to Ainm Spartacus.

The two divisions of the Clonoulty Handicap Hurdle both have a very competitive look, but Burnfoot Girl has been in and around the places in two of her previous three outings, including a win at Cork.

Elsewhere, Dunguib could step up to three miles at the Punchestown Festival in May following a disappointing performance in the Champion Hurdle.

Trainer Philip Fenton will enter the former Weatherbys Champion Bumper hero and dual Grade One hurdle winner in both championship events, but will not rush into a decision on which race to go for.

The three-mile Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle is run on Thursday, May 5, with the Rabobank Champion Hurdle over two miles staged the following day.

“We'll go to Punchestown next and he'll be entered in both the two-mile and three-mile races,” said Fenton.

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