Ten runners go to post for this competitive 80-123 handicap hurdle at Thurles racecourse. With a prize fund of €16,000 up for grabs, they will be trying their hardest to win this contest which is run over the extended two miles and seven furlongs. Heavy ground is forecast so take that into account when looking through the form. Read on for our expert analysis, runner by runner guide and free tip.
IN SUMMARY: Michael Hourigan’s Hollow Tree arrives here in good form and has to be respected but he has to give eleven pounds to RUE HILL who beat him by nineteen lengths when they met at Gowran Park last time out. OK, he was giving Rue Hill nearly a stone on that occasion but a two or three pound swing in the weights shouldn’t reverse such a heavy beating. Denis Hickey’s inmate has had his training issues but he has him back in fine fettle now and he should take all the beating if that form stands up.
1 PLAIN TAKING – Very consistent five year old mare trained by Gavin Cromwell who trains two runners in this field. She had a very productive summer, notching up handicap wins at Roscommon and the Galway Festival before running a fine fourth at the same festival just three days later behind Westerner Lady who has gone on to win Grade 2 and 3 races for Willie Mullins since. She has since been fourth behind Mares’ Novice Hurdle hopeful Airlie Beach in Listed company at Gowran Park and was sent off a well backed 7/2 favourite on the flat over a mile and four furlongs at the Curragh only to finish twenty-second. She has the burden of top weight here but must be respected as conditions and trip should be fine.
2 DIAMOND CAUCHOIS – Owned and trained by Mrs Bramall, this six year old gelding will have to improve drastically on recent showings to take a hand in the finish here, beat fifty lengths at Punchestown last time out and pulled up at Leopardstown before that. However, if the ground remains heavy he has some hope. In January, he ran a fine race in second at Fairyhouse, beat a head by Shannak. The third that day, Sutton Manor, was nine lengths behind in third and he absolutely hacked up when last seen. If he can recapture that form he has an each way chance for all he runs off a three pound higher mark.
3 CAPTAIN VON TRAPPE – Every Gigginstown House Stud runner has to be respected, especially when the horse is trained by Gordon Elliott who cleans up in this sphere in Ireland but this is one of the yard’s lesser lights. Last successful in October 2015, the eight year old has been in terrible form for the past two years. In his last seven runs, he has been no closer than thirty lengths behind the winner so he clearly needs to find buckets of improvement, for all this is just his second start over hurdles since 2015 and he wasn’t disgraced last time out. Best avoided.
4 RAZ DE MAREE – Dour stayer who finished eighth in the Grand National at Aintree back in 2014 and at first look, he might want a bit further than this. Formerly trained by Gordon Elliott, he is now in the capable hands of Gavin Cromwell and he ran a fine race in the Welsh National when last seen, finishing just over a length behind the eventual winner Native River who is of course disputing favouritism for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The downside to that form is the fact he was in receipt of sixteen pounds but it was still a terrific run. Bottom line is he will enjoy the conditions but the now twelve year old should need further and may not be trusted to back up that recent fine run.
5 TOUBALOO – Uninspiring form of Fell, Pulled Up, 9th, Pulled Up and Slipped Up certainly couldn’t inspire us to tip up this nine year old gelding who is trained by Andrew Lee. He hacked up in a beginners chase on heavy ground back in 2015 over two miles and two furlongs and connections have him back over hurdles after some very uninspiring displays over the larger obstacles. Needs to find a huge amount of improvement here and looks best watched.
6 HOLLOW TREE – Michael Hourigan, who is based in Adare in County Limerick, Ireland certainly knows the time of day and when he puts a proper jockey up on his horse it is always worth taking note. He has acquired the services of Danny Mullins to ride this nine year old who arrives here off the back of two fine efforts in handicap company, third to Mine Now at Gowran Park and second behind Sutton Manor here at Thurless over three miles on heavy ground last time out. He is only up a pound for that run which is very fair and looks sure to put in another bold bid today.
7 NERUAL – Six year old mare trained by Liz Doyle who still has relatively low mileage on the clock with just eight runs under her belt, four of which came in bumpers. She is yet to taste success but continues to give very good accounts’ of herself, fifth behind Some Neck at Limerick over two and three quarter miles before staying on into fourth of the twenty-five runners at Fairyhouse over three miles last time out in first time cheek pieces. She is up a pound for that, now off 99, and looks a solid each way player who acts on heavy ground.
8 RUE HILL – 10 year old gelding trained by Denis Hickey who wouldn’t be one of the more well known trained in Ireland but he has a decent horse on his hands here. He has only run ten times which is nothing for a ripe horse of his age and his sole success came at Limerick in December 2014 off a mark of 91 so he has a seven pound higher mark to defy today. He was off the track for a couple of seasons with injury and ran a cracker to go down by just over a length to Mine Now at Gowran Park last time out. Interestingly, he was nineteen lengths ahead of Hollow Tree on that occasion and he will take the world of beating with a repeat effort in this lineup.
9 SWIFT – Six year old mare who won an 80-109 handicap at Navan in January over two and a half miles on soft ground. She ran a solid race next time out when an eighteen lengths third behind Shark Hanlon’s Camlann at the same track and was again a remote third at Fairyhouse last time out. She certainly warrants respect and should run another solid race but it looks like the handicapper has his grip on her off a mark of 86 and it would be disappointing if she was good enough.
10 STEAK AND SPUDS – Five year old mare who has shown no form whatsoever on each of her five starts to date, beat 61, 80, 25, 73 and 90 lengths. She has absolutely no chance whatsoever on all known form and would be an extremely surprising winner.