Shane McArdle takes a look at the feature races on a very good mixed card of racing at Tipperary on Thursday
Prices for these races can be found here:
The Listed 5f Coolmore US Navy Flag Tipperary Stakes
Two runners represent owners Qatar Racing Ltd in this contest.
Firstly, Air Force Jet, who is trained by Joseph O’Brien and partnered by Donnacha O’Brien.
He finished second on debut when going down by just a short-head at Naas in May. The winner of that race, Lorelei Rock, has since run well in the Group 3 Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot (7th of 25, btn 7L) and in the Group 2 Airlie Stud Stakes at the Curragh (4th of 10, btn 6.5L).
He then broke his maiden at Navan with a neck victory over Southern Hills, and then finished down the field in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The other Qatar Racing Ltd runner is UK challenger Illusionist, trained by Archie Watson and the mount of Gary Carroll.
He finished second on his first two runs at Lingfield and Windsor before getting off the mark at the third attempt in a Novice Stakes at Bath, where he was an impressive 8L winner before heading to Royal Ascot where he ran a cracker by finishing fifth of 21 runners, only beaten 5L, in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes.
Another UK challenger is Strive For Glory, trained by Robert Cowell and the mount of Billy Lee, a winner of one of his three starts to date.
Another runner who will be well-fancied is Invincible Diva, trained by the very much in-form Jessica Harrington and the mount of Shane Foley. She finished second on debut at Cork before breaking her maiden tag at Down Royal.
Joseph O’Brien also runs Royal Affair, whilst the Fozzy Stack trained American Lady and Isabeau trained by Michael O’Callaghan make-up the seven-runner field.
A trappy looking race to call, with Air Force Jet looking the first string of the Joseph O’Brien duo. Robert Cowell’s Strive For Glory has to be respected making the trip over from the UK and Invincible Diva also commands close attention coming from the red-hot Jessica Harrington yard.
However, it’s Illusionist from the Archie Watson yard that will be my selection following his cracking run in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot. His trainer has a tremendous record of 20 Individual two-year-old winners already this year.
The Grade 3 2m Kevin McManus Bookmaker Grimes Hurdle
Just the five runners declared for this nice pot. Trainer Joseph O’Brien runs two. Firstly, Plinth who is a two-time course winner and the mount of Niall (Slippers) Madden for owner JP McManus, who was a winner last-time out at Kilbeggan, where he beat Ravenhill by a comfortable 6L.
The other is Band Of Outlaws, who landed a big gamble when taking the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, before finishing a well beaten fifth in the Grade 1 Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile at Hurdle at the Aintree Grand National meeting, although after a hard race at Cheltenham, it is possible that race may have come a bit soon, as can be the case with runners turning out at Aintree so soon after Cheltenham.
Willie Mullins runs Thomas Hobson, who was beaten a long way in the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup at Royal Ascot last time out and was a beaten odds-on favourite at Hoppegarten in Germany the time before that in a Group 2 contest. His hurdling record is four wins from 12 starts.
Tombstone represents trainer Gordon Elliott and will be partnered by Davy Russell for owners Gigginstown House Stud. He finished well beaten in the Grade 2 Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle at Fairyhouse when last seen, but was a winner the time before when he beat Three Stars by 2.25L in the Foxrock Cup Hurdle at Leopardstown.
The remaining runner is Like An Open Book for trainer John Burke and the mount of Sean Flanagan, but his last win over hurdles came back in 2017.
Band Of Outlaws is my selection here as I’m taking it that his below-par run in the Grade 1 Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at the Aintree Grand National meeting just came too soon after his win at the Cheltenham Festival. If back to his best after a break, he should be too good for his four rivals in this Grade 3 contest.