The Willie Mullins team are in excellent form at present and FRANCO DE PORT can provide the champion trainer with another winner in this opening beginners’ chase at Thurles on Thursday. Colreevy and Blue Lord were the latest nice novices to shine for the Colsutton team at Punchestown earlier this week and Franco De Port should have enough class to win on debut over fences from main danger, Front View.
The lightly raced five-year-old won on debut over hurdles on his first start for Mullins at Gowran Park last season and was pulled-up under Paul Townend in the Coral Cup when last seen at the Cheltenham Festival in March. He was rated superior to these rivals over hurdles and looks another who can land plenty of prizes for connections throughout the season. Front View looks one of the main dangers having finished mid-division in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hurdle at Cheltenham and should improve for his debut fifth over fences at Fairyhouse earlier this month.
Several J.P McManus owned runners do battle in this 2m 2f handicap chase where it might be worth taking another chance with FOX LE BEL for trainer Liz Doyle. It was interesting to see the five-year-old sent off favourite for connections on his handicap chase debut at Thurles last month, having previously shown little on his two opening starts over fences. Unfortunately for punters, that market support was scuppered when unseating jockey Luke Dempsey four-out and he now returns after a break today running off the same 92 rating.
Elsewhere, all eyes will be on old-boy American Image and his jockey Aileen O’Sullivan following a wonderful success story at Clonmel last month. The amateur jockey, who works in banking in Dublin was a social media success story following her joyous post-race interview on Racing TV, which later included further national headlines outside the racing world when covered on RTE News.
We’ve seen several battles between Willie Mullins and Henry de Bromhead in recent weeks and this 2m maiden hurdle looks another match between two of Ireland’s top trainers. Gjoumi returns to the track for the champion trainer having finished fourth on debut in a graded juvenile hurdle at Fairyhouse in February and has an excellent chance today.
However, GUA DU LARGE has the fitness edge and caught the eye with a nice debut performance behind Queens Brook in an excellent three-way finished at Fairyhouse last month. The four-year-old learned plenty on that occasion when coming between horses heading towards the last hurdle and was only beaten a neck by the winner – it was an educational debut and hopefully he’ll win today for the Robcour team who keep investing strongly in Irish racing.
It’s back to the Mullins team for our next and final selection at Thurles on Thursday where GAULOISE can hopefully make a winning rules debut in the colours of Ken Alexander in this maiden hurdle. The owner has been very lucky with his horses over the past few years with Elfile previously successful for the Mullins team and Honeysuckle an amazing unbeaten mare in the hands of Henry de Bromhead.
There’s very little strength in depth here and Gauloise, a four-year-old filly who was purchased privately from France following her sole victory in April 2019 might have enough to see off these rivals and make a winning Irish debut. Elsewhere, Global Equity is clearly the yardstick on form for Joseph O’Brien following her third-place finishes at Navan and Limerick at the backend of last year.
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