Beaten an aggregate of 249 lengths on his six runs under rules to date is hardly going to set the betting pulse racing, but mad as it may seem I have found an angle into persuading myself to have an each-way play on BALKOS @ 10/3 in the third event on the card at Clonmel at 15.00 on Tuesday.
He was in the process of running by far his best race two outings back at Thurles when seemingly cantering over his rivals at the third last and then for some unknown reason the five-year-old backed out like a wet rag.
It later transpired that he had the cough and was given a seven and a half week break by trainer Donal Hassett to recover.
That saw the selection return fresh and well and put up a career-best effort when third of 12 to Key Commander at Punchestown on January 15th.
The handicapper has left him on the same mark of 92 for this weak-looking event and another 5lbs spring forward in performance here would make him him one of the prime players in a race that looks up for grabs big time.
Of his rivals, cases can also be made for the likes of Shantou Sisu, course and distance winner De Bennette and the unexposed All Class.
He has quite obviously had lots of problems having run just the four times since coming to grief at the second obstacle in Native River’s 2018 Gold Cup.
But this is a huge opportunity for the lightly raced nine-year-old and I’ll be surprised and disappointed if he can’t put to bed the likes of Mortal and Death Duty.
The last named is such a frustrating chaser having been a well above average novice and ran behind Simply the Betts at Cheltenham this year. But just when you think he is going to put in the complete performance he finds a way to mess things up.
A round dozen will go to post for the staying handicap chase at 16.30 headed by Ask Heather off a rating of 105.
That is well within her capabilities and she has to be respected here, but the big question is, can she give the weight away to Gordon Elliott trained ROBIN DEUZ POIS @ 15/8.
Formerly with Paul Webber in the UK, Elliott sent him over for a handicap chase at Newcastle two weeks ago and apart from one mistake, his fencing was pretty good for one so inexperienced.
He also showed a cracking attitude that day, galloping all the way up the stiff home stretch to the line and I think he has the ability to leave this class way behind in time, if he continues on an upward curve.
Finally, have a second look at the beautifully bred STAND OFF in the bumper which ends the card at 17.00.
He made his career debut for Phillip Fenton a year ago and showed bags of promise when fourth to Front View at Punchestown, in what looked a well above average race. The market will tell us plenty, but the fact he went off at 16/1 that day in a deep race makes him of huge interest here.
*Prices correct at publication.