Irish racing commences this week at Thurles on Thursday, The action at the Tipperary track contains two high quality Grade Two events on soft to heavy ground.
The main race of the day is the Matty Ryan Memorial Kinloch Brae Steeplechase over 2m 4f. It has attracted some top class entries with Gordon Elliots Roi Du Mee sure to be a leading fancy to take a fifth-successive win and is clearly on the upgrade and worthy of respect. His victory on New Year’s day came at the expensive of today’s rival Tranquil Sea. That day Elliot’s charge had seven and half lengths to spare over Tranquil Sea and it looks like a tough ask for Eddie O’Grady’s veteran to overturn that form.
Lightly-raced, Days Hotel has won his last three races, the last two of which were at Grade 2 level, and his participation will clearly be of interest to all punters. Injury has curtailed his career, but he has looked very good of late and it would be good to see him fulfil his potential for Henry de Bromhead.
Another horse that will be of interest to is Paul Nolans Grade One winner Joncol. He was a six-length third to Roi Du Mee in a Grade 3 at Punchestown last October (2m7f, heavy) and is now two pounds worse off. He shaped well over hurdles last time and the 2010 Hennessy Gold Cup winner certainly retains talent and appreciates the ground. He could be best watched tomorrow but if he continues to improve he could once again make in to a top class chaser for Paul Nolan if he manages to retain his best form.
The lightly raced Days Hotel will not be without support on the day, but the one who makes most appeal is Gordon Elliot’s Roi Du Mee.
The second of the days Grade Two is the Fame And Glory & Sans Frontieres Coolmore National Hunt Sires European Breeders Fund Mares Novice Steeplechase. This race holds some strong entries and perhaps the strongest being the Wille Mullins trained exciting mare Tarla. The French mare was two lengths clear when falling at the last on her latest appearance in Cork when 4/11 favourite. Mullins mare has shown abundance of talent in all of her five victories since joining the champion trainer from France and is sure to go off a short price favourite.
Bear in mind, though, that Cnoc Seoda looked booked for second in that Cork race when, just like Tarla, she came down at the last fence. Connections would surely be hopeful that she can claim some prize-money if jumping round safely.
Charlie’s Vic and Nora’s Fancy were both winners last time out, but the form does not seem strong enough to land this event. Although Mangan’s mare Nora’s Fancy could be each way-value on her best form.
While the point-to-point and hurdling winner, Dangan Daylight, fell at the first fence on her chasing debut at Limerick last time. Lightly-raced, she should have better to come and it would be no surprise to see her go well.
Avondhu Lady has won two of her last three races but, on the one between them, she was third to Tarla at Clonmel (2m4f, soft), beaten by nine-and-three-quarter lengths.
It is very hard to escape the claims of Tarla in this 2m4f chase, although she is likely to be a strong favourite. The value could lie in Noras Fancy at a decent each way price.
Champion trainer Willie Mullins has opted not to run Boston Bob in the W.T. O’Grady Memorial EBF Novice Chase and instead he relies on Mikael D’Haguenet.
Jumping errors once again cost the classy nine-year-old at Limerick over Christmas. He is sure to go off at an extremely low price but could be worth avoiding due to prone to massive errors over the larger obstacles.
Paul Fahey’s He’llberemembered could be worth siding with in the four runner contest. Only beaten by one and a half lengths on his latest outing on the flat he comes to the race in good form. Fahey’s charge was only beaten by four lengths to subsequent dual Grade Two winner days ahead in October. He is a consistent sort and he also beat a progressive horse of Noel Meads in Johannisberger over Christmas.
Western Leader and Tabhactach complete the entries to the small field. Both runners will have to be in their best form to land this contest.
Mikael D’Hagunet is clearly the class act of the race. But serious question marks lie over his jumping and on this fact he is not worth siding on as a possible 1-2 favourite. He’llberemembered seems to be where the value. The horse comes in to the races in good form and if he puts his best foot forward could be the value at 9/2.
Mullins is represented by impressive Clonmel winner Ballycasey in the INH Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle. The race also hold last-start winners Love Rory, Kilcrea and Milborough, as well as Bonisland, help make up a potentially informative contest. But Mullins charge looked he could possibly be a class act on his hurdling debut and could be worth siding with on Thursday in similar conditions.
The champion trainer also could possibly have a strong horse in the French import Djakadam who runs in the opening www.thurlesraces.ie Maiden Hurdle at 1.10. This horse could be well worth backing if positive in the market. The Ricci family’s success at buying decent juvenile hurdlers from France is impressive, and it doesn’t look a strong contest.
Away We Go (3.40pm) stayed on to very good effect over 2m4f at Punchestown over the New Year and bids to capitalise on a hurdles rating 20lb lower than his chase mark.