Credit to the ITV Racing team for bringing free-to-air racing coverage to British & Irish fans as the cameras roll into Thurles on Saturday for a 7 race card.
1.40 2m (1m7f177y) Adare Manor Opportunity Maiden Hurdle (5yo+)
A decent looking maiden to kick things off with Lorna Fowler’s Politesse a very strong bumper performer who makes a hurdling debut while the Gordon Elliott trained Fakiera has taken well to hurdles with back to back runners up finishes in maidens at Naas and Leopardstown.
One down the card at a big price that caught my eye is Blanketontheground who was only beaten 2l in a 2m handicap hurdle at Gowran a couple of starts back and is back down in maiden company today for John Walsh who books 4lb claimer Gavin Brouder to ride.
Going back to Politesse the mare was just over 6 lengths behind Longhouse Poet on bumper debut which saw her step up into Grade 2 mares bumper company next time out prior to winning a bumper over the course last time. While she certainly looks a promising type she may find one too good in Fakiera who was only bettered by a red-hot Mullins & Ricci favorite last time and the gelding should kick on a level here.
2.10 2m6½f (2m6f89y) Hurdle (5yo+)
Some of these have taken part in some big races recently and lost their way since but Mary Frances looks to be heading back in the right direction after the mare won a Pertemps qualifier at Punchestown last time. Martin Hassett’s charge had ran in graded races won by Benie Des Dieux and Stormy Ireland in her previous two starts and found that company slightly too deep.
Karl Der Grosse was pulled up after failing to travel and making a noise at this venue last month but has shown plenty of ability in maiden & novice company while Jetz also hinted at returning to form after some graded hammerings when a runner-up at Leopardstown at the start of the month.
Moyhenna is a Grade B handicap winner for Dennis Hogan but has struggled since while Brace Yourself is another who may appreciate these calmer waters for Noel Meade.
It would also be dangerous to rule out Ferocious despite the Gigginstown charge being pulled up last time given he beat Five O’Clock in a maiden before finishing behind Tiger Tap Tap in the Munster national.
As you can see, you could make a case for many in the field of 9 but I side with the in-form favorite Mary Frances.
2.40 2m6½f (2m6f89y) Handicap Hurdle (4yo+ 80-95)
A competitive handicap with Goulane Jessie beaten under 1l after reverting back to hurdles at Fairyhouse in January while Johnny Little Legs looks a potential improver for Sean O’Brien after going down by a short head on a first completed handicap start over 2m here latest and will be a major player if taking to the step up in trip off 4lb higher.
Duhallow Paddy raced over fences most recently and is rated 7lb lower over the timber with William Cronin’s charge just 3lb higher than when runner-up over the timber at Tramore a couple of starts ago. Assured to see out the trip and more than comfortable with a cut in the ground the 7-year-old is my selection here.
3.10 2m2f Pierce Molony Memorial Novice Chase (Grade 3) (5yo+)
A fascinating Grade 3 with Sizing Pottsie winning both of his completed starts over fences of Jessica Harrington having shipped its rider on chase debut at Leopardstown, a race won by Melon. Sizing Pottsie has cruised to 10l+ victories since but tackles this trip for the first time but is expected to see it out.
Zero Ten may prove the chief threat having won on chase debut before another fine effort at Naas in January only to fall when still in contention in a rated novice chase at Punchestown latest. A grade 2 runner up over hurdles there may be more to come from this one over fences.
Cut the Mustard is a talented mare from the Willie Mullins yard but has 12 lengths to find on Sizing Pottsie from the most recent meeting and as a result it’s hard to look past Robbie Power’s mount here.
3.40 2m4½f (2m4f91y) Duggan Veterinary Handicap Chase (5yo+)
Trumps Ace will be for a hat-trick after consecutive Clonmel wins but 16lb higher than the first of those successes the door may be slightly ajar for Kavanagh’s Corner who was just over a length behind Trumps Ace in December but has since made the frame at Limerick and scored over a half a furlong further than this trip over the course last time. Now carrying just 3lb more than Trumps Ace as opposed to 9lb there could be a swing in that form.
Kavanagh’s Corner had the likes of Crazyheart and Western Sea in behind in that rated chase last time here and very well could double up for Henry De Bromhead.
4.10 2m6f Horse & Jockey Beginners Chase (5yo+)
A race featuring plenty of eyecatchers on recent runs & plenty of well-bred newcomers for very decent yards.
Starting with some eyecatchers of late, Light Brigade was a runner-up on debut at Gowran and clearly appreciates this sort of going while Vantry Avenue and Ultra Viers also made strong starts under rules recently.
Of the newcomers it’s Major Robinson who catches the eye initially, by the same sire as Darver Star trained by Simon Crawford and to be ridden by Jamie Codd.
While I fancy Light Brigade to build on his debut effort and win this bumper I feel Major Robinson offers some good EW value on debut.