By Michael O’Leary
The most prestigious race day in the Gowran Park Race day calendar takes place today as Thyestes Day takes place in Gowran Park.
The feature race itself takes place at 3pm with 15 runners going to post, and Champion Trainer leader Gordon Eilliott responsible for 6 of the starting line-up.
The Meath native has never won the race, but has a great chance of ending his Thyestes famine.
Ucello Conti ran a cracker finishing 2nd in the Paddy Power Chase at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival and a repeat of that effort would see him go very close.
In-form Jack Kennedy bids to become one of the youngest jockey’s to win the Gowran feature as he takes the mount aboard Monbeg Notorious who is perfectly weighted at 10 stone 2.
Sumos Novios has been leased to the Gowran Park Racing Club especially for the day, and with two recent 2nd placed efforts at the Limerick Christmas Festival and Punchestown in November is another strong condender for the trainer/jockey combination of Willie Burke and Robbie Power who won the feature two years ago with My Murphy.
Another trainer enjoying a golden spell is Henry De Bromhead and he brings back Champagne West for a repeat of last years triumph, and if he can recapture last years form, can go well again under top weight.
Rachael Blackmore was one of the panelists at last weeks launch ahead of the feature race, and she was confident her mount Call the Taxi will go very well, and has been well supported in the run-up to the race.
Trained by Ellemarie Holden and owned by her Mum Catherine, Call the Taxi would be a most popular local success.
David Mullins who rode Champagne West to success last year is back again aboard Islenofhopendreams for his uncle Willie.
The now 11-year-old reverts to fences after a spell over hurdles, and will attract each-way support, while two outsiders who can go well are Thunder and Roses and Fine Theatre.
Thunder and Roses is a previous Irish National winner back in 2015 with Lisa O’Neill taking the reins for the Mouse Morris stable, while Fine Theatre from the Paul Nolan stable off a low weight of 9 stone 12 has had two good runs recently, and will stay the trip and can run a big race.
As usual another competitive race with several having chances, but Sumos Novios can give the Gowran Park Racing Club success on the racecourses biggest day, with Ucello Conti running another big race, and Fine Theatre and Call the Taxi to be in the firing line come the finishing line.
VERDICT: 1. Sumos Novios 2. Ucello Conti 3. Fine Theatre
Meanwhile, there is very competitive racing else with a good supporting card led by the Grade 2 John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle at 1.50pm.
8 runners with Willie Mullins represented by Lets Dance, Bacardys, and Augusta Kate, but I think victory can go west with the Pat Kelly trained Presenting Percy a progressive type having won the Pertemps Hurdle in Cheltenham last year.
Presenting Percy will the relish the underfoot surfact and trip, with the likely favorite Lets Dance stepping up to three miles for the first time.
The days activities gets underway at 12.50 with a very competitive maiden hurdle.
Willie Mullins is represented by Scarpeta who is likely to be disputing favoritism with Monatomic, but the two runners in the Potts colours will attract good each-way support.
Sizing Joshua is out of former Champion Hurdle winner Alderbrook winner and can go well at good odds, and the jockey trainer combination of Bryan Cooper and Mouse Morris is interesting, while Whisperinthebreeze if taking to hurdles can run a good race also.
Local trainer Dick Donohue who trains outside Gowran has a live chance with Coole Craft in the Handicap hurdle at 1.20pm, and he can continue his progression with victory here.
The other Handicap hurdle precedes the Thyestes at 2.25 with Gordon Elliott’s Graineyhill likely to be a well backed favorite.
However, he has very poor form beyond two miles and is taken on here.
The Francis Flood trainer Peace in Milan ran well in Fairyhouse last Sunday week, and won’t be inconvenient by drop back in trip having previously won over two and a half miles, but victory can go locally to the Tom Foley stable with Goaheadmakemyday who can add to his recent success at Punchestown.
Her best showings have been on an underfoot surface, and receiving weight from her rivals, she will take plenty of beating.
The penultimate race is a beginners chase with Willie Mullins represented by the favorite Bunk Off Early and the David Mullins ridden Montelbano, with the Gordon Elliott trained De Plotting Shed the only contender to deny the Champion trainer success here.
Finally in the concluding bumper, unsually Willie and Patrick Mullins are not represented despite having won the race 7 times in the past 10 years.
A field of 8 with 7 of the runners making their racecourse debut for ther first time, and Gordon Elliott has double representation courtesy of the favorite Lady V the mount of Lisa O’Neill and the Declan Lavery ridden Edene D’arc.
Two who represent good each-way value are Ted Walsh’s newcomer Major Fawcett, and Tim Hyde’s Feeling Groovy who can both go very well and exceed their odds expectations.