By Barry Doyle & Michael O’Leary
One of the features of the local Racing calendar, the Thyestes Chase takes place in Gowran Park today at 3pm, backed up by the Galmoy Hurdle (Grade 2), two other handicaps, maiden hurdle, a beginners Chase & a bumper with the first of 7 races going to post at 12.50pm.
A large number fans & punters will today transcend in great numbers on the county Kilkenny race track having booked time off months prior to today.
18 runners will take their place in the starting line-up and as always it’s a very competitive renewal.
Willie Mullins who has trained the winner of the race 6 times has only one confirmed runner with Pleasant Company making his seasonal debut.
Pleasant Company won on his last start at the Punchestown Festival last April and should go well, while the Champion Trainer has two reserves if any of the starting participants are ruled out.
Michael’s take on the day’s Racing
Sambremont and The Craft Butcher are on standby and If The Crafty Butcher was to get in, he could go off favourite following his fast finished effort to come 3rd at the Paddy Power Chase at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.
The Gigginstown stud are well represented with 7 runners with the most fancied been Prince of Scars from the Gordon Elliott stable looking to win the feature for the very first time.
Teenage sensation Jack Kennedy is on board Prince of Scars, and is well weighted at 10 stone 7.
Mary Louise Hallahan from Macroom Co. Cork has a good record in Gowran Park, and Toon River is a Gowran Park specialist and has won 5 times at the local track.
At 25/1, he represents good each-way value and will certainly like the underfoot surface.
Gordon Elliott has 7 representatives, and Ucello Conti will be well faniced following two excellent efforts in Aintree and in Leopardstown at Christmas.
Jimmy Mangan previously won the race with Whinstone Boy in 2010 and has aimed Monty’s Meadow specifically for the Thyestes.
Monty’s Meadow was 2nd at the Limerick Christmas Festival, and has proved form over 3 miles and on an easier surface.
Last years winner My Murphy is also back for a tilt again this year and is looking to follow in the footsteps of Preists Leap and Wylde Hide who have won the race in consecutive years.
Two others towards the bottom of the weights expected to go well are the JP McManus owned Rogue Trader who finished 5th in the Paddy Power Chase at Christmas and last years Novice Bonny Kate who ran a superb race to finish 3rd in the Troytown Chase.
TIPS: EACH-WAY – Toon River, Montys Meadow, Rogue Trader and Bonny Kate
Barry Doyles take on proceedings
Willie Mullins traditionally likes to dominate this home fixture & might saddle 3 in the feature event – the Thyestes chase. Early race favourite & recently acquired The Crafty Butcher is currently third reserve and needs two runners to withdraw in order to get into the race.
Willie looks like having 4 of the 7 race favourites across the card.
It’s not just a Willie Mullins show today however, we’ve plenty of other local trainers & local Jockeys on show.
Tom Foley, Eoin Doyle, Shark Hanlon, P Meany along with David & Danny Mullins & Rachael Blackmore to name just a few.
But It’s County Meath man and Willie Mullins title challenger Gordon Elliott who holds the aces when it comes to the Thyestes at 3pm today.
Elliott has seven runners out of the 21 entered and is 13/8 to have the winner.
Gordon Elliott trained & Gigginstown owned PRINCE OF SCARS (6/1 generally) looks the one for me here.
Previously trained by Sandra Hughes in Kildare he had more than successful time over hurdles after switching yards last term.
Considering his game would be chasing his two wins in handicaps followed by a win over 3m on Heavy in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown beating Alpha Des Obeaux was no mean feat.
I do like siding with unexposed novices in the Thyestes and with just 10-7 on his back this fellow looks to have the best profile. I predict he will go off favourite here & if you do get involved you couldn’t have a more in form man in the saddle than Jack Kennedy right now.
Looking at the Galmoy Hurdle I’m taking a chance with SHANESHILL (9/4 generally) to upset Ruby Walsh and the stable first string favourite Clondaw Warrior. I still feel we haven’t seen the best of Shaneshill at 3m over hurdles.
Willie probably made the mistake of sending Shaneshill over fences for a full year when the 3m staying hurdle division was weak at home.
Now back over hurdles I think he can win a prize like this & this looks an ideal opportunity. Leading at the last at Leopardstown over X-mas he came down when he was certainly going to place if not beat Clondaw Warrior.
The ground becoming softer won’t hinder him as much as Clondaw Warrior & don’t rule out a World Hurdle tilt at the Cheltenham festival in March where he’s as big as 16/1 and likely to shorten after today.
Another thing to note going into today is that the fashion has got considerably better on Thyestes day in recent years, so if you are near Pauls in Kilkenny getting a fry up before racing consider one of those tweed hats & maybe even a tweed waist coat and pair of chinos!
You have to keep up with the times lads!!