Following the abandonment of both Naas and Down Royal recently racing returns for the first time since Hennessy day at Thurles today, Martin Pennington takes you through the card…
Speckled Wood is taken to prove a rather appropriate winner of the opening Maiden Hurdle in the week following the death of her superstar dam Like-A-Butterfly. Christy Roche’s charge has twice run against geldings in the past and acquitted herself well on that occasion when beaten just seven lengths by the very useful Ally Cascade here on her debut. She was in against her own sex for her second (and most recent) start when chasing home the odds-on favourite Unika La Reconce here before Christmas and she’s unlikely to be facing anything of their calibre here and as such is taken to get off the mark at the third time of asking here.
Michael Griffin has made the notable booking of Champion jockey Davy Russell for his point winning son of Westerner Boondooma. The selection won a Maiden at the classy Lemonfield meeting back in March and had previously finished fourth behind the highly regarded Lost Legend at Knockanard. He’s been in and out so far under rules with his best effort being a runner-up spot behind Briar Hill when making notable late progress having been held up early on here at the start of last month. He’s since finished fourth to the Willie Mullins trained Sizing Tennessee at Gowran Park last month with a winner and a horse who’d finished close up behind Simonsig in front of him that day and this brother to Graded scorers Tell Massini and Rocky Creek is taken to score at the first attempt over hurdles.
Shanroe Society showed a distinct liking for this track two starts back when scoring by an easy five lengths from C’Est La Mode under today’s jockey Liam McKenna. He’s since run disappointingly behind the well handicapped Barneys Honour at Navan but with the runner-up running well in a big handicap at Leopardstown since, the third having won two of his previous three starts and the fifth running well off his higher chase mark since he could still be feasibly handicapped off 7lbs higher than for that victory over course and distance at the opening meeting of 2013 here and he should go well off a feather weight upped in grade here.
Davy From Milan showed useful form in points, most notably when runner-up in winners races at Killeagh and Boulta earlier this season. Those two efforts sandwiched an attempt in a Maiden Hunter Chase at Limerick over Christmas in which he was still travelling well when falling four out in a race won by Goonyella. Eoin Doyle’s son of Milan made his hurdling debut last month at Limerick over 2m 3f behind the consistent Willie Mullins gelding The Paparrazi Kid and with the step up in trip to 2m 6f likely to suit and with him being proven on the ground he’s taken to go one better than he did on that occasion here.
Liz Doyle’s veteran mare Rating Queen has recorded three victories in her nineteen race career thus far with all three coming here at Thurles where she’s contested just four races. The most recent of those successes came back in November over 2m 2f here back in November when she was sent off favourite. She’s disappointed since behind Ballyquin Queen at Tramore though it’s likely that she didn’t handle the track as she’s run poorly at a similar track in Wexford in the past. Rating Queen is a course and distance winner having scored here three years ago when making all and she’s taken to bounce back from her poor run last time out under the useful seven pound claimer Kevin Sexton.
Zekarya put in a solid effort to break his Maiden over fences at Limerick last time out and he drops back to hurdling here off a 10lb lower mark than he’s allotted for chasing on his return to Thurles, a track he’s already been placed over in a 2m 2f Maiden Hurdle on yielding ground back in November. Pat Doyle’s charge has placed on two of his three hurdles attempts so far though crucially all three were over significantly shorter than this and given the style of his success at Limerick over 2 1/2m on heavy and the fact that this Belclare point winner has already won over 3m in the pointing field this step up in trip looks likely to suit him down to the ground.
Cyprian Prince was well supported in the ring and travelled like a classy horse when getting off the mark at the first time of asking between the flags for Louis Archdeacon at Dromahane at the end of December and is taken to make a winning rules debut dropped down in trip under his jockey that day Mikey O’Connor. The race was run in a very decent time and the runner-up Rocknrollrambo scored in a Maiden Hurdle here at the first time of asking last month with the pair of them a distance clear of the third at Dromahane. The selection showed plenty of pace that day and the drop in trip is unlikely to hinder him.