Irska produced his best effort yet when finishing third under this rider on his handicap debut at Hereford, and he could yet have more to offer. He failed to quicken on the approach to the home turn that day, but stayed on again to nearly snatch second, shaping as if a step up in trip to three miles would suit.
There is certainly plenty of stamina in his pedigree – his dam is closely related to some strong stayers – and he should appreciate this stiffer test.
Sound Mixer showed improved form when finishing second on her handicap debut at Kempton this month, running on late to get within half a length of the winner. She remains unexposed having raced only four times, and is open to plenty of improvement, particularly at this stiffer track.
Ben Curtis has been in flying form of late and he takes over in the saddle, so everything points to a big effort.
The Thyestes Chase is one of the most prestigious handicap chases in the Irish calendar and plenty in the field can be given a chance, including Acapella Bourgeois, who ran up to his best behind Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo at Tramore and Ex Patriot, who travelled like a well-handicapped horse at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
However, it could be worth taking a chance on Choungaya, who has had only three starts over fences but is interesting based on how well he shaped on his debut in this sphere over an inadequate trip. He was beaten only three-quarters of a length by Tornado Flyer in a strong-looking beginners’ chase at Naas.
While he has failed to build on that since, he will be well suited by this step up in distance and has the services of 7lb claimer Oakley Brown in the saddle.
*Prices and entries correct at publication