Danny Mullins, Joseph O’Brien, Rachael Blackmore and Henry Beeby during the Goffs Thyestes Chase Launch at Gowran Park
A large crowd braved the surprisingly heavy snowfall to turn out in Gowran Park for the official launch of this year’s Thyestes Chase.
The top class panel on the Tuesday night saw Davy Russell (on 87 winners so far this season), recent Melbourne Cup winning trainer Joseph O’ Brien, Tipperary jockey Rachel Blackmore, the returning-from-injury Danny Mullins, and Thyestes-winning trainer of My Murphy, Liam Burke.
These people know Gowran well. Davy Russell won here on Dessie Hughes’ top-weighted Siegemaster in 2011. He’s looking to continue his fine form into the big Kilkenny race day.
“It’s been a good race for me,” he said. “I ran it the first time as an amateur — it was a big deal and it still is. It’s a valuable race.”
The Cork jockey warned that ground conditions will be testing, and a good class of horse will be required to win.
“You need pace around Gowran,” he said. “It’s not the stiffest track in the world, but you need pace.”
“The fences in Gowran are a good fence — you don’t get away with much.
“There’s a ditch there down the back, and you’d often see a fella waving out the top window — it’s like a two-storey house.”
Joseph O’ Brien voiced a similar opinion.
“You need a bit of pace, but you have to stay as well,” he said.
Indicators for tomorrow (Thursday) are pointing towards another bumper crowd at Gowran. Corporate hospitality has been sold out since early November, and online tickets have also been fast disappearing.
Local trainer Willie Mullins will be hoping to extend his unprecedented success in the Thyestes with his three charges, including favourite Polidam and Pleasant Company.
Danny Mullins is one of the few Mullins without a Thyestes victory, but he’s hoping hisday will come.
“Not yet,” he says.
“I’ve ridden a few times but haven’t had the luck, but it’s been a great track for me."
Mullins picked up an injury on New Year’s Day but was hoping to be back in action this week.
Meanwhile, CEO of Goffs Henry Beeby said Goffs was, as always delighted to be at Gowran, in this, the eighth year of the current sponsorship deal. He said the Thyestes was a and launches the hunt campaign.
General Manager of Gowran Park Eddie Scally spoke of the numerous events coming up at Gowran over the next year, as well as plans for a new watering system.
Special salute also to Joe Connolly who is the chairman at Gowran Park 21 years this year. At last week’s launch, he recalled his first trip there (in short pants) back in the 60s.
“It seems like it went in a flash!”
“I remember coming in with my father across the back field to get a look at a race.”