A HUGE entry of 48 horses has been received for the Goffs Thyestes Chase, which will take centre stage at Gowran Park this month.
Willie Mullins, who has won the race four times already, has half a dozen or so charges entered in the race, including the joint top weight Quel Esprit however, this one is unlikely to be in the line-up. The same applies to the Gordon Elliott-trained Chicago Grey.
Elliott and his Gigginstown House owner Michael O’Leary, who were successful in last year’s race, will probably rely on the seven-year-old Tharawaat but they also have Beautiful Sound engaged. English trainers Charlie Longston and Lucinda Russell have pencilled in the race for Hold On Julio and Do It For Dalkey respectively but we must wait until declaration time for a final tally.
This three mile contest is always a hugely competitive affair. With a prize-fund of E80,000 it’s the biggest race by far in the South-East, so a full house is expected for the race, which will be held on Thursday, January 26.
The Tom Mullins-trained Baby Whizz returned to winning ways with a comfortable success in the two mile 87-109 handicap hurdle at Navan on Sunday.
An easy winner at Wexford back in November, the Dr Massini gelding was not disgraced in a competitive Leopardstown contest at Christmas and was shouldering joint top weight here. Rider Mark Walsh elected to take his time on Baby Whizz as the Philip Rothwell runner Three Monkeys made much of the early running. Tom Treacy took over aboard Cantrell with four flights left to jump, however, once Baby Whizz was asked the question he quickened up nicely to lead at the penultimate hurdle and go right away to land the spoils by eight and a half lengths from Cantrell.
Not the easiest of rides, the winner was earmarked for a chasing career. Much will depend on how the handicapper views the race as to what happens next.
Oscar Dan Dan opened his chasing account at the third time of asking when he gained a somewhat fortuitous victory in the two mile and a furlong beginners chase.
A decent horse over hurdles in his time the now ten-year-old came from off the pace but still had plenty to do going to the second last fence. At this point Bagber, representing the Willie Mullins/Ruby Walsh combination, looked like he was going best of all but made a dreadful mistake. Walsh did well to keep the partnership intact but it knocked the stuffing out of the odds-on favourite.
Meanwhile Niall Madden was hard at work on Oscar Dan Dan, but responded well to lead inside the last furlong before going on to win cleverly by three and a half lengths. While it’s unusual to see a ten-year-old going chasing it must be said that the winner is capable of scoring again at this level before the season is out.
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh did not leave the meeting empty-handed as they took the opening two races on the card courtesy of Terminal and So Young. The French import Terminal got his Irish career off to a fine start when he justified strong support in the two mile maiden hurdle for five year olds and upwards.
A three-time bumper winner in his native land, the son of Passing Sale was always prominent. He took a definite advantage four out and although he had to be well stoked up by Walsh he showed a likeable attitude when asserting close home for a two and a half length victory.
On this evidence Terminal looks a nice prospect, but bigger tests lie ahead. It will be interesting to see how he progresses from here.
Another French import So Young was at cramped odds for the two mile conditions hurdle and he duly did the business with the minimum of fuss.
Forced to make his own running, the six-year-old had to be kept up to his work by Walsh after entering the straight but he pulled out plenty to beat the well-regarded Trifolium by seven and a half lengths.
A winner over varying trips this season So Young started favourite for the Neptune at Cheltenham last Spring and will make a return trip come mid March. He will have an entry for the Champion Hurdle, but given his proven stamina a tilt at the World Hurdle is much more likely.