With only a matter days until the Cheltenham festival, Irish punters have plenty in Clonmel on Thursday to keep them occupied as they eagerly anticipate for next week’s racing. Racing commences at 2:35 with the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden Hurdle.
A maximum field goes to post for the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden Hurdle at 2.35. Ancient Days is sure to have his supporters, having finished fourth behind Cheltenham Festival contender Inish Island at Downpatrick when last seen. Father Jack is an interesting contender as he showed improvement to finish fourth on his most recent start at Punchestown. Dick Dundee is perhaps the pick of the race. He merits respect on the back of a third at Thurles, the Paul Nolan team seem to think a lot of him and he is sure to be in the shake up.
Smithfield looks as if he can pick up a race of this class. He takes his chances in the Lisronagh Maiden Hurdle at 3:10. He was well beaten in a strong handicap at Leopardstown on his latest start, although his form prior to that was good and he looks the one to beat. A first-time tongue-strap could help Spot Fine and he is sure to play a major part.
Speckled Wood was impressive when winning at Thurles just days after her dam Like-A-Butterfly passed away last month, and the Christy Roche-trained novice heads the weights for the Carrick-On-Suir Mares Handicap Hurdle where she looks like she can make a successful debut in Handicap company. She looked good when winning the last day and could still be well handicapped. Lead Kind Lightly is rated 24Ibs lower in this sphere than her chase rating. She’s difficult to ignore as a consequence.
Franchoek was once a major Triumph Hurdle fancy for Alan King. He takes his chances in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Steeplechase at 5:15. He is sure to have some ability and the better ground could bring improvement. He finished sixth on his comeback and he is worth a chance at a large price of 12/1. JP McManus’s other horse Take A Shot could be the one to beat.
Turnandgo is sure to be popular in the closing Ardfinnan Flat Race at 5:50. He was second to a horse called Hawaii Five Nil here in November. That horse has since been beaten in a weak English bumper under his new connections. Turnandgo showed he was not a speedy type and it could over obstacles before we see the best of him. Maggie Byrne is worth taking a chance on. The Oscar mare is very well bred. She is a half sister to the exciting Clondaw Warrior, and she is worth taking a chance on at a large price.