I find it hard enough to split two in a race – let alone the eight in a competitive race like Thursday’s Thyestes Chase 3pm. It’s ultra-competitive as always and looks a very open race.
I ride Invitation Only who dodged Thurles on Sunday because of the quicker ground, but the going at Gowran Park should be soft.
Invitation Only is in good form and can hopefully continue on an upward curve.
The step up in trip to 3m 1f should bring out improvement in him as he was getting competitive when he tipped up at the second last at Punchestown last May in the Grade 1 novice chase.
He runs before that had been over 2m 4f. He’ll need to be close to a Grade 1 horse to win this off 11-6.
I’m hoping he’s the best of Willie Mullins runners at least.
Paul Townend rides Up for Review. He’s a good jumper who likes soft ground and is a previous course winner. The trip should be fine for him, he runs well fresh and definitely has a chance.
Of our others, Pleasant Company was just chinned by Tiger Roll in the Aintree Grand National, but was very disappointing over hurdles at Leopardstown at Christmas. He’ll have to step up considerably on that form to have any chance here.
Pairofbrowneyes is a course winner at Gowran Park and ran okay when last seen in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown at Christmas. He should improve and will strip a bit fitter after that run.
Both of Some Neck’s wins over fences have come in small fields and that’s a slight concern. He has plenty of experience though, beat Blow by Blow last time at Punchestown and has a nice weight on his back. He just has to cope with the company.
Danny Mullins gets a good tune out of Isleofhopeanddreams who jumps, stays and loves soft ground. Polidam finished just in front of Pairofbrowneyes in the Paddy Power Chase at Christmas and should improve for that, but has a little bit to prove.
Bellow Mome hasn’t run for two years or so but has a lot of work done at home. He seems in good form, but is unproven at the trip.
Patrick Mullins rides Pat Kelly’s Mall Dini who is still a maiden over fences. Winning a Thyestes Chase would be some way to break that run though!
Of the others, Gordon Elliott’s Dounikos was a fair novice last year, a bit like Invitation Only. He stays really well and could be a big player.
His stablemate Borice was all the rage for the Paddy Power Chase at Christmas, but ran no sort of race there. He wears a tongue strap this time, but will need to put that run well behind him.
Mr Diablo ran a blinder after a lay-off when second to Tout Est Permis who has since franked the form by winning at Thurles last Sunday. Another run like that would make him a leading player particularly as he’s at the foot of the weights.
There’s a cracking undercard too where Willie saddles Voix Des Tiep in the 2m 4f Maiden Hurdle at 1.20pm.
Paul Townend rides and he was just touched off at Christmas when he ran a blinder to finish a neck second to his stablemate Small Farm – conceding him 12lbs.
It’s a confined race and they don’t tend to be as strong as races that are open to everyone, so hopefully this might be a weaker race than the one in Limerick.
The Big Dog looks a danger and he was a neck second to Castlebawn West at Leopardstown. It’s arguable that Voix Des Tiep has better bumper form than Castlebawn West, so hopefully he can take care of The Big Dog.
Whatever way you look at the 3m Galmoy Hurdle (Grade 2) 1.50pm, Presenting Percy will take a lot of beating.
He’s ante-post favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and is a genuine Grade 1 performer, having won the RSA Chase impressively last season at the Festival too.
Connections have waited for the soft ground to arrive and while I’d say he’ll be plenty fit but – he’s bound to improve for his first run in a while.
You would certainly want to see him being competitive until the last couple of hurdles. If fitness was to tell then – at least connections have something to build on.
Willie Mullins has six entries and I had a tough task to settle on Coquin Mans, who also hasn’t run in a while.
He disappointed on his last run in Auteuil last May when unplaced, but before that looked very good two starts before when winning a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse over 2m 4f. He’s the highest rated of our runners and could be open to a bit of improvement now he’s upped in trip to three miles. That’s why I went for him.
He could be unexposed but whether he’s good enough is another story.
Rachel Blackmore rides Limini who looks to have a great chance at the weights – given she’s rated just 7lbs behind Coquin Mans on 151 but carries 12lb less here. However, she has disappointed a little this season despite being race-fit from a summer Flat campaign, but we know she’s a good mare.
Paul Townend rides Bapaume has had a couple of runs this season, but faded behind Apple’s Jade at Leopardstown to finish a well beaten third.
Shaneshill, Killutagh Vic and Bleu Berry will have to step up considerably on their last run to feature.
It’s not ideal for us to have to run a couple against each other on in the 2m Beginners Chase at 3.35pm, but it’s getting late in the season and we have to get runs into them. I ride Cilaos Emery and we’ve been waiting for soft ground for him. Hopefully he can put up a good performance on his debut over fences.
He was a highly-ranked hurdler and has schooled really well at home.
Paul Townend rides Duc Des Genievres who probably has the experience edge on his stablemate, having finished second to A Plus Tard at Naas last month.
Blue Sari never ran in France so can run in the 2m bumper at 4.10pm.
He works nicely at home, but it can be hard to gauge with the four-year-old’s just how good they are, until they’ve had a run. Patrick Mullins rides.