The master of Closutton, Willie Mullins, is already operating at an incredible 32-per-cent strike rate this season. The champion Irish trainer had a Christmas feast of winners, including several Grade 1 successes. Willie has an unbelievable record around Clonmel, a lovely country track located in County Tipperary. Last year, he saddled 13 winners at the track from just 26 runners and he sends two horses there on Thursday.
Willie won this race three times from the last four renewals and also won it back in 2013 with Annie Power. The opening maiden hurdle can go the way of MANITOPARK AA, who runs in the famous Mr Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede silks. This well bred Walk In The Park mare won five of her six races over in France, all of them National Hunt bumpers. She disappointed on stable debut for Willie when 5th of 19 runners at Navan. Sent off the 5-6 favourite that day, she just needed the run and will strip much fitter now. The first time hood will also bring out the necessary improvement.
The second leg of the Willie Mullins double on Thursday is CAVALLINO, who again runs in the familiar silks of Malcolm Denmark. This Presenting gelding was always going to need a trip so it’s good to see connections step him up in distance here. He ran a very good race on an unsuitably sharp track when last seen at Tramore. It was also an inadequate trip so finishing a close-up third on that occasion was a highly promising effort. First time cheekpieces are applied which could be seen as a sign of intent and it would be disappointing if he was not good enough.