Connections feel Wicklow Brave’s class can help him give weight all-round in the Kevin McManus Bookmaker Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary on Thursday.
Willie Mullins’ versatile performer has won at the top level over jumps and on the Flat, and has smart form as recently as April when he was second to Supasundae in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle.
He missed most of the winter having gone to Australia for the Melbourne Cup.
Unplaced in the Yorkshire Cup on his latest outing, the nine-year-old reverts to obstacles for a Grade Three contest in which he is clear top-rated.
“He ran very well at the Punchestown Festival when he was second to Supasundae. Obviously he has top weight, but I think he has the best recent form in the race and a flat track and good ground should both suit him,” said Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father.
“He should be hard to beat.”
The Mullins stable also run Sharjah, who is another expected to appreciate the quicker conditions.
“He disappointed us a little as the season went on. His form maybe didn’t go the way we thought it might, but a flat track and the good ground is going to be the making of him,” said Mullins junior.
“He gets 7lb of Wicklow Brave, so hopefully he can get his confidence back as his recent form has been disappointing.”
Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Joseph O’Brien, fresh from his success with Latrobe in the Irish Derby, saddles four of the 11 runners – Plinth, Tigris River, Ivanovich Gorbatov and Slowmotion.
The field is completed by The Game Changer, Don’t Touch It, Dr Mikey, Joey Sasa and Tully East.
Willie McCreery believes Mintd will not be inconvenienced by the drop back to the minimum trip in the Coolmore Pride Of Dubai Tipperary Stakes.
The daughter of Olympic Glory got off the mark at the third attempt with a smooth success over six and a half furlongs at Listowel a month ago, after showing promise over shorter distances on her first two starts.
“She’s in good form. She shouldn’t mind coming back in trip and I hope she’ll run well,” said McCreery.
Patrick Prendergast acknowledges Infloresence faces an Herculean task on official ratings – but also beleives she is better than her bare form suggests.
“On ratings she has a hell of a lot to do, but we felt a few of her runs just didn’t work out the way we wanted them to,” said the County Kildare trainer.
“The owners just wanted to take the chance on trying to get black type, but she has an awful lot to do.”
A field of eight for the Listed contest is headed by Aidan O’Brien’s Land Force, who was third in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. The Ballydoyle handler is also represented by Fantasy.
Kafu, Recon Mission, Usra and Yolo Again complete the line-up.