A midweek treat in Gowran for the lads. I’m contractually obliged by my Carlow connections to deliver their annual reminder that the Thyestes is the race that stops two counties. No big day out for the locals this year of course. The big freeze which saw a couple of meetings postponed last weekend seems to have passed. That should mean racing goes ahead. Conditions will prove attritional.
The card kicks off with a modest handicap hurdle. Djasek is bound to prove popular. He’s unexposed, and showed real signs of life in Fairyhouse last time out. The market is unlikely to miss him though.
One horse that could be overlooked is Fallen Forest. He looked set to play a big part in a similar race to this in Punchestown last month. Unfortunately, he clipped the top of the third last hurdle, and took a fall. That was particularly galling as he had jumped impeccably up to that. There was still over a half a mile to run so we must take it on trust that he would have found as much as looked likely.
That run also came in first-time blinkers. Hopefully, he will respond to them again in this race. He’s only a six-year old so it’s reasonable to hope his best days are ahead of him. There are questions to answer but it’s hard to shake the memory of how he loomed into contention the last day. At what should be rewarding odds, I’m happy to take a chance. Paddy’s paying 4 places too.
The Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle is a race I’m keen to have a bet in. So many of the horses have questions to answer. Diol Ker isn’t a very good jumper. Burrows Saint is unlikely to be fully tuned up. Darasso looks to have fallen out of love with the game. Great White Shark is a worthy fav. I’m just a bit concerned about how she’ll handle this really deep ground.
Sixshooter looks a rock solid each-way play. He’s having a good season. He kicked it off by giving weight, and a beating, to Kilfenora. He backed that up with a close third in the Lismullen Hurdle. That form took a couple of knocks over Christmas but Ronald Pump ran a sledger on his next start. I’m fairly sure this race represents an easier opportunity for Sixshooter. He’s a horse who can make mistakes. Encouragingly, he hurdling was accurate on the second circuit in Navan. He’s entitled to be improving, will relish the taxing ground, and this step up in trip is another positive in my view.
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Paddy’s giving us 6 places on the feature race, the Thyestes Chase. It’s just enough incentive to have a crack at this minefield. Brahma Bull rates the selection. He comes here on the back of an unseat in Tramore. I wouldn’t worry about that. The jockey will have been disappointed to fall off. Brahma Bull can make the odd mistake. Encouragingly, his best round of jumping came in Cork three runs back. That day he was ridden by Brian Hayes who is two for two on the horse. He beat a very solid yardstick in Ex Patriot that day. That run would suggest a mark of 151 shouldn’t be beyond the Bull.
He ran perfectly respectably behind Minella Indo on his seasonal comeback. In the context of this race, it was a little annoying to see the horse bumped up 3lbs for that run. There doesn’t look to be a raft of well handicapped horses in here mind you. Despite being a 10-year-old, the Bull remains relatively unexposed. He’s a classy horse. With Hayes back in the plate, I’d be very hopeful of a bold show.
The beginners chase can safely be narrowed down to a few runners. Antey wouldn’t be one for punters of a nervous disposition. He has failed to complete on three of his last four starts. All of those runs came in better races than this. He had put in a solid round of jumping prior to departing at the penultimate fence last time out in Fairyhouse.
He looked to be travelling best at the time. He drops back in trip here but I’d expect Paul Townend to make it a good test in the conditions. That should be enough to take care of some inferior opposition. If he gets around, I’m confident Antey will win. Given his profile, the odds are unlikely to be prohibitive.
Brendan Duke’s Gowran Park selections
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