A field of nine go to post for the second bit of graded action on the Thurles card, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: In a field full of unconvincing and out of form runners, preference is readily for WESTERNER LADY. 9-14 under Willie Mullins, she won a Group 3 on her latest start and that piece of form sets the clear standard today. Ruby Walsh prefers her to stablemate Daisy’s Gift and she should be capable of much better yet, with a 5lb penalty not of any concern in a field such as this. She’ll need to jump better today but conditions suit and she should have no problem dispatching these rivals.
1 WESTERNER LADY – 9-14 under rules for Willie Mullins and sets the clear form standard with her latest win at Clonmel in a Grade 3 in November (2m 4f, Yielding). Her jumping was slightly wayward at times but she got the job done and that form sets a clear marker down for the rest to aim at. Conditions are fine today and she should be able to concede 5lb to her opposition with the minimum of fuss under Ruby Walsh.
2 BLACK FRANKS ANGEL – Lightly raced seven year old but has shown no form of real note in the context of this race, and her second on chasing debut at Wexford (2m 4f, Good) doesn’t amount to much. Conditions are fine today and if improving she may run well for placings but has lots to find and is unlikely to land a blow.
3 BLAZING WEST – Nine year old who hasn’t shown much over fences thus far, though her latest fourth at Naas a few weeks ago was a career best (2m, Soft). Led at a strong pace that day and hampered on a number of occasions so most likely capable of better and would have place claims if settling better in conditions that suit. She does need to improve though as she found little off the bridle that day and doesn’t appeal for win purposes.
4 COLLA PIER – Has shown good form on three attempts over fences and wasn’t beaten far in December in a listed race at Doncaster when upped to this trip (2m 4f, Good). Has work to do in terms of beating the 11lb higher rated Westerner Lady but does have solid each way claims in conditions that suit and she’s still unexposed at this trip, so is respected.
5 DAISY’S GIFT – Useful hurdler on her day and won a listed race back in 2015 at this trip, though it hasn’t been simple over fences, blowing out twice (burst blood vessel on one occsions) either side of a winner at Wexford in November (2m, Soft to Heavy). This trip is obviously no problem on the back of her hurdling win at this distance and the softer ground is no concern either, but she does have quite a bit to find with the selection and Ruby Walsh opts for that rival. Place claims but nothing more.
6 KEPOLLS QUEEN – Sixth in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at the Festival, and has been steadily improving over fences with two second places in her last three starts. She doesn’t however look a natural chaser and pulled up on her latest start at Limerick (2m 3f, Soft to Heavy) in the race won by the exciting Benie Des Dieux, though she did have a bad cut on her fore that day. Capable of better but she does look rather one paced at times and it is hard to see her having any impression on the selection today. Place claims at most.
7 MISTY LADY – Decent hurdler at her best but not the most consistent, as shown by her two drastically different chasing runs so far. She showed promise on chasing debut when second at Cork in December (2m 1f, Soft to Heavy) in a Grade 3 race behind Listen Dear but was well beaten a few weeks later at the same venue at today’s trip (2m 4f, Heavy). That was arguably another strong race and she is interesting if improving on her chasing debut with conditions to suit, and could be one of the main dangers to the selection, but is risky.
8 MONBEG ROSE – Lightly raced over hurdles and posted some decent form but has been poor over fences thus far and was behind Blazing West on her latest start at Naas in January (2m, Soft). Today’s extra distance should help but she’s been far from convincing and needs to clear her jumping up if she’s to play a part in this. Conditions are to suit but it is hard to see her playing anything more than a minor role.
9 NOT FOR BURNING – Ten year old who won her penultimate start at Fairyhouse (2m 4f, Yielding), albeit in a weak handicap. Still lightly raced over fences and could be capable of better but at her age others should have no problem improving past her, not least due to her inconsistency. If the principles under perform she may be able to place in conditions that suit, but she’s far from convincing for win purposes today.