A competitive field of seven go to post for the third race of the day at Thurles, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Upped to this distance Battleford is likely to be a tough nut to crack but the inform ELECTRIC CONCORDE can give him a lot to think about. Dropping back slightly in trip isn’t of any concern as he travelled well last time out when winning a competitive handicap and gave generously for pressure that day. David Mullins keeps the ride which is a big plus and he should put up stern resistance to the short priced favourite and has to be respected for Jim Culloty.
1 ELECTRIC CONCORDE – Posted a career best when winning at Leopardstown in a competitive looking handicap over the festive period (3m, Yielding). Travelled well throughout that day so stepping back in trip isn’t much of a concern as he found well for pressure, and going back to soft conditions is likely a plus as it’ll make this more of a stamina test. David Mullins retains the ride and should put up a bold showing for Jim Culloty.
2 BATTLEFORD – High class in bumpers with seconds in the Champion Bumper at the Festival and a Grade 2 at Aintree a month later. Jumping somewhat let him down on his hurdling debut at Navan in November (2m, Yielding to Soft) and going up in trip certainly helped when winning with a bit in hand at Leopardstown in December (2m 4f, Yielding) Should improve again for this step up in trip and conditions are no problem as he’s ground versatile, so he may well be hard to beat for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh.
3 BRIGHTEST FLAME – Showed how much stamina he has in the locker when breezing clear at Tramore in dire conditions on New Year’s Day (2m 5f, Soft to Heavy) and stepping up in trip with softer conditions on offer should eek out further improvement. There is some suspicion that he may just be found lacking for pace if this turns tactical and others are preferred, though he does have place claims.
4 SOME NECK – Useful in bumpers and transferred that promise to hurdling when winning at Limerick in December, though it is hard to know what that form really amounts to (2m 6f, Heavy). He did show he has the stamina for this trip and he was rather green that day so is likely to show lots of improvement today, though Ruby Walsh opts for stablemate Battleford with Paul Townend taking the ride which is quite telling. Has to have Each Way claims for powerful connections but seems an unlikely winner on balance.
5 THE STORYTELLER – Another useful bumper horse whose transferred there ability to obstacles, winning on the third attempt at Down Royal on Boxing Day with the minimum of fuss. He travelled well that day and settled the race easily but this will be much tougher and needs to prove his stamina at this trip. Will most likely run his race but others have sounder claims and less risks about them, so he could be one to just watch today.
6 BILLY’S HOPE – Consistent mare who does have something to find on form, beaten around six lengths by Electric Concorde on her latest start at Leopardstown (3m, Yielding). Likely to run her race and should give a good account with conditions to suit, but its hard to get excited about her chances against tougher opposition today.
7 WISHMOOR – Won a bumper at Punchestown and ran well on hurdling debut in a competitive looking race at Naas (2m 3f, Yielding to Soft), showing clear promise. He wasn’t so good when pitched into Grade 2 company at the same venue (2m 4f, Soft To Heavy), beaten well out of sight. Obviously now in calmer waters but this is still a strong looking race and others have much more pressing claims.