Camelia De Cotte (Paul Townend) winning at Cork last month© Photo Healy Racing
Camelia De Cotte bids to continue her profitable campaign in the Order Of St George Coolmore NH Sires Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase at Thurles.
The Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old was no star over hurdles last season — winning just once from six attempts.
But she has looked a completely different horse since tackling the larger obstacles — coming home in front on four of her five starts, including a Listed triumph at Clonmel and a Grade Three success at Cork on her two most recent outings.
She steps up to Grade Two level on Sunday for a race Mullins has won twice in the last four years with Vroum Vroum Mag (2015) and Westerner Lady (2017), and will likely be a warm order to give weight and a beating to six rivals in the hands of Paul Townend.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “She wears a hood and she’s not an easy ride, but fences seem to have been the making of her — she’s a far superior mare over fences compared to what she was over hurdles.
“It won’t be easy, because she has penalties to carry and Meri Devie is a good mare who won well on her first start over fences at Naas.
“Our mare goes there in good form, and hopefully she can pick up some more black type.”
Camelia De Cotte’s biggest threat appears to be her former stablemate Meri Devie.
The 147-rated hurdler changed hands for 55,000 euros at Tattersalls Ireland last November and made a successful debut for Paul Nolan at Naas a fortnight ago.
She is due to be put in foal this year, and connections are hoping she can increase her broodmare value beforehand.
Nolan said: “She’s in good form, and we’re hoping she’ll run another good race.
“She was a high-class hurdler for Willie and she was bought as a broodmare prospect. We said we’d give her a go over fences first, and she made a good start, so we hope she can continue that way this weekend.
“She has large black type over hurdles, so if she can get some black type over fences to go with it that would be great.
“The favourite will be hard to beat — she has a lot more experience than us — but as long as our mare runs a nice race and comes home safe and sound, we’ll be happy.
“Everything is a bonus at this stage.”
Henry de Bromhead’s Ellie Mac and Joseph O’Brien’s Grey Waters also feature in the extended two-and-a-half-mile contest.