American Tom bids to get his career back on track in the Poplar Square Chase at Naas on Saturday.
The Rich Ricci-owned six-year-old made an impressive start to his Irish career in a novice hurdle at Gowran in the autumn of 2015 and while he was not seen in action again for over a year, he made it two from two in a beginners’ chase at Punchestown last December.
He was a huge disappointment on his most recent start at Naas in January, but was found to be coughing post-race and remains an exciting prospect.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father Willie, said: “He’s given us a lot of trouble, but he’s ready to start off and we’re hoping his problems are behind him.
“He’s a horse with a lot of ability, so hopefully we can have a clear run with him this year and he can show us on the track what he shows us at home.”
American Tom faces five rivals in the two-mile Grade Three, with Gordon Elliott’s Ball D’Arc forced to concede weight all round.
The Jessica Harrington-trained Neverushacon, Henry de Bromhead’s Ordinary World, Tom Taaffe’s Peoples Park and Uncle Danny from John Queally’s yard complete the line-up.
Grade Three honours are also up for grabs in the Fishery Lane Hurdle, which has likewise attracted a field of six runners.
Elliott saddles the Gigginstown House Stud-owned pair of Delta Work and Duca De Thaix, while Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Joseph O’Brien sends Early Doors into battle just 12 days after his successful hurdling debut at Wexford.
Mullins relies upon Meri Devie, who was third behind stablemate Bapaume in the Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at Punchestown in April before failing to fire in France the following month.
Patrick Mullins said: “She is a mare with a lot of talent.
“She was disappointing on her last run in Auteuil, but ran very well in Punchestown before that and that Punchestown form would put her right in the mix on Saturday.
“Having said that, it looks a hot race, so we’ll see how we go.”
Ex Patriot arguably sets the standard for Ellmarie Holden, having finished fourth in last season’s Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and third behind Jezki on his latest jumping appearance in the Istabraq Hurdle at Tipperary.
Colin Bowe’s likely outsider Amaulino makes up the field.