Trainers can be creatures of habit and having previously won this Beginners Chase on several occasions in the past, Jessica Harrington has decided to take a chance with EXIT POLL in the opener at Thurles. The Harrington team has fully established themselves as a leading stable on the flat, but they’ve never forgotten the national hunt side of the game with nearly 200 runners sent out this season.
The seven-year-old catches my eye on his fourth career start over fences with the drop-in trip looking ideal under Darragh O’Keeffe. The Mulryan owned runner managed a maiden hurdle win over two-miles at Fairyhouse last year, before unseating on his chasing debut at Punchestown in October. His next start was more encouraging when second to Andy Dufresne at Wexford with the Gordon Elliott runner a fine third to Monkfish at Leopardstown last Sunday.
He disappointed and was well beaten at Navan when jumping right on occasions in early December with the 2m 4f trip looking beyond him on that occasion. That race has worked out extremely well with several winners since, including The Big Getaway, Dinny Lacey and stable-mate Mr Hendricks. He should represent some value against Whatsnotoknow who looks the horse to beat now returning quickly and back over fences for Mouse Morris.
SHOPPING AROUND returns from a break to contest this handicap chase over the extended 2m trip and has an excellent chance to score for trainer Jim Dreaper. The seven-year-old produced a good performance on her handicap debut over fences when finishing a slightly unlucky second to Espion Du Chenet at Naas in mid-December. The daughter of Doyen was short of room when challenging on the inside rail in the closing furlong and needed to switch right before finishing three lengths behind.
Both horses meet again today with the Louise Lyons trained runner failing to complete in two subsequent runs when unseating his rider at Thurles and been pulled-up at Clonmel. Despite a rise of 4lbs to a new mark of 106, Shopping Around is better off at the weights against her old rival. The Chapel Field finished fourth in that Naas contest and also returns, with Willie Austin’s runner having a line of form with Chalky White from a previous victory at this venue last November.
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There are several in with chances in this 2m maiden hurdle but SCHONE AUSSICHT gets the vote to score for the Irish Champion Hurdle winning combo of Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore. The six-year-old has plenty of miles on the clock following her flat runs in Germany and France but is only having her third start over hurdles today. Her third-placed finish at Fairyhouse last month reads well and the slight drop-in trip should be a positive against Risk Factor and Gorki D’airy.
She travelled nicely into the straight at Fairyhouse but couldn’t keep up with Roseys Hollow and Global Equity after the second-last hurdle and had to settle for a place. That form has been enhanced big-time over the past week, with Roseys Hollow winning the Solerina Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Monday. Global Equity was a good second in a competitive handicap at Leopardstown on Sunday and the fourth placed Quarry Girl also secured victory on Monday for Denis Hogan.
BROOMFIELDS JEREMY looks capable of progressing further and could cause an upset to land the feature Horse & Jockey Rated Novice Hurdle for Philip Dempsey and Paul Townend. The six-year-old has been raised 10lbs in the ratings for an impressive victory in a novice hurdle at Clonmel last month. The son of Jeremy was put asleep out the back under Robbie Power before powering home after the last hurdle to win by a comfortable 13-lengths.
The manner of victory suggests the extra-furlong should be perfect and he’ll also appreciated a further step-up in trip down the line. Paul Townend comes in for the ride as both Mark Walsh and Robbie Power are riding for JP McManus and Jessica Harrington. Capodanno should enjoy the extra-distance and continues to wear a tongue-tie, while top-weight Crosshill remains the horse to beat now returning from his fall in the Lawlor’s Of Naas and his previous good runs at Punchestown.
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