Noel Meade is looking forward to seeing Tout Est Permis take the next step up the ladder in the Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase at Thurles on Sunday.
The Gigginstown House Stud-owned six-year-old was well-beaten on his final start for Mouse Morris at Down Royal last May, but has appeared completely reinvigorated since switching yards.
Tout Est Permis justified market support when making a successful start for his new trainer at Galway in October before running out an impressive winner of the fiercely competitive Troytown Chase at Navan the following month.
He steps up to Grade Two level for a race formerly known as the Kinloch Brae this weekend and Meade hopes his charge will prove up to the task.
“He’s in very good form and hopefully he can make the step up,” said the Tu Va handler.
“I couldn’t be happier with him at home and he has no penalties or anything, so it’s the right race to run him in.”
Recent winners of the Kinloch Brae include two subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup heroes in Don Cossack and Sizing John – and Tout Est Permis does hold an entry in the blue riband at Prestbury Park in March.
“We had to give him an entry (in the Gold Cup), but we’ll see how he goes on Sunday and take it from there,” Meade added.
Champion trainer Willie Mullins has a strong hand, with Total Recall and Invitation Only renewing rivalry after finishing second and third behind another stablemate in Al Boum Photo at Tramore on New Year’s Day.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “Total Recall ran a very good race the last day and we’ve been happy with him since. He has no penalties to carry and is well suited by the race conditions, so hopefully he can go one better.
“Invitation Only is a bigger, stuffier horse than Total Recall and probably needed the run that bit more in Tramore. We’d be expecting him to improve and get closer to Total Recall this weekend.
“Hopefully both horses will run well in what is the showpiece event of the year at Thurles. It looks like a very competitive renewal with a good few horses rated over 150, which is great for them.”
Gordon Elliott saddles last year’s winner A Toi Phil and Doctor Phoenix.
The Henry de Bromhead-trained Sub Lieutenant, Jessica Harrington’s Jett and Keith Watson’s outsider Amaulino complete the eight-strong field.