UP FOR THE CUP - jockeys Paul Townend, David Mullins and Jonathan Burke admire the Thyestes trophy
Gowran Park will be the centre of attention as the Thyestes Chase forms the centre of a seven-race spectacular tomorrow (Thursday).
Local trainer Willie Mullins is leading the way in the race for the prestigious title with his charge, The Crafty Butcher, proving to be the one to catch in betting circles.
The 10-year-old Butcher, runner-up in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, is one of six horses Mullins has entered in the big race, which starts at 3pm. The team also includes his Punchestown festival winner Pleasant Company (12/1), who has been given 11st 1lb.
Last year’s winning trainer Liam Burke has made two entries, Cork winner Sumos Novios and My Murphy, who is trying to become the first back-to-back winner of the race since the Thomas O'Leary-trained Priests Leap won for the second time in 2009.
Racing begins at Gowran Park at 12.50pm on Thursday. Buses will run from Kilkenny Castle two hours before the first race.
Champion owners Gigginstown House Stud were the big winners at Leopardstown on Sunday where they landed both €100,000 handicaps on the card.
The famous maroon and white colours were carried to success in the Coral.ie Leopardstown Handicap Chase by A Toi Phil, yet another valuable handicap chase success for Gordon Elliott.
The 7/2 favourite came from off the pace under Jack Kennedy to deny the David-Mullins ridden Stellar Notion.
Ice Cold Soul took the Coral.ie Hurdle for Noel Meade and Sean Flanagan, a second win in the race for both men. Meade was a winner in 1993 with the Gerry O’Neill-ridden Glencloud while Flanagan was successful on the Liz Doyle-trained Penny’s Bill in 2009.
The other big winner on the day was Yorkhill, who landed the Grade Three novice chase for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh at prohibitive odds of 1/5 favourite.
Toe The Line finally came good over hurdles when taking the mares’ maiden hurdle for John Kiely and Denis O’Regan at odds of 5/1.
Liz Doyle and Brian O’Connell combined to land the 2m2f maiden hurdle with 4/1 shot Justmemyselfandi while 7/1 chance Oscar Sam won the 3m handicap hurdle for the in-form Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power.
There was an impressive winner of the bumper as 6/4 favourite Bakmaj ran out a five length winner under Steven Clements for Curragh trainer Alan Fleming. The Cheltenham Bumper is a likely option for the winning five-year-old.
Jezki made light of an absence of 21 months when winning the Race Displays Event signage Hurdle at Navan on Saturday.
Running for the first time since landing a Grade 1 over three miles at the Punchestown festival in 2015, the nine-year-old pulled clear of Renneti and Tombstone to score at odds of 11/8 favourite for Jessica Harrington and Barry Geraghty. The Champion Hurdle, a race he won in 2014, and the Stayers Hurdle are options at the Cheltenham festival.
Harrington and Geraghty had also taken the opening maiden hurdle with 7/4 favourite Thirsty Work. Yaha Fizz, trained at Laytown by Eamon Delany added to his Naas success at the beginning of the month when winning the 2m handicap hurdle under Ryan Treacy.
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh took the 2m4f maiden hurdle with 15/8 favourite C’est Jersey and another market leader to oblige was All The Chimneys who landed quite a gamble when taking the handicap chase at odds of 5/4 for Cloughjordan trainer Willie Austin and Eamonn Corbett. Acapella Bourgeois took the beginners’ chase at odds of 2/1 for Sandra Hughes and Roger Loughran.
Eight for Grey
Grey Danube tied the record number of wins on the all-weather at Dundalk when taking the 7f handicap for Darren Bunyan and Damien Melia on Friday.
Grey brought his tally at the track to eight when winning at odds of 20/1 and in doing so gave his rider his fourth career success and his first since March 2014.
Another Curragh trainer on the mark was Michael Halford who landed the opening division of the 12f handicap with 11/2 chance Duchessofflorence who was ridden by Conor Hoban.
There was a third Curragh success when Gearoid Brouder partnered the James Nash-trained 8/1 chance Our Manekineko to success in the 8f handicap.
Peter Casey and Niall McCullagh took the second division of the 12f handicap with another 7/1 chance Hello Humpfrey while 9/2 favourite Mainicin landed the 10f handicap for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning.
David Marnane and Connor King were on the mark with 8/11 favourite Alfredo Arcano in the 6f conditions’ race while over the same distance, Ger Lyons and Colin Keane took the handicap with 7/2 shot Ellaria.
A tilt at the Stan James Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown or the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park next month is on the cards for Sizing John who landed the Grade Three Ladbrokes Ireland Kinloch Brae Chase on just his second start for Jessica Harrington at Thurles on Thursday.
A well-supported 3/1 chance, the seven-year-old readily saw off 11/10 favourite Sub Lieutenant to score under Robbie Power.
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh combined to land the Grade Two Coolmore National Hunt EBF Mares Novice Chase with 4/6 favourite Westerner Lady who won from her stable companion Daisy’s Gift.
Another winner at the same price was Foxrock who was successful for Ted and Katie Walsh in a high-class renewal of the Arctic Tack Stud Hunters Chase.
Racing began with a comfortable victory for Henry de Bromhead’s 100/30 chance Surf Instructor, ridden by Dylan Robinson, in the opening division of the 2m maiden hurdle while Mullins and Walsh were again on the score sheet as Al Boum Photo readily justified his odds of 1/3 favourite in the second leg of the same race.
Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy took the 2m6f novice hurdle with 5/2 shot The Storyteller, who was far too good for Mullins’ 6/5 favourite Battleford.
Today (Wednesday): Fairyhouse (first race 12.45pm). Tomorrow (Thursday): Gowran Park (12.50pm). Friday: Dundalk (5.30pm). Saturday: Naas (12.55pm). Sunday: Leopardstown (1.30pm).