An Cathaoir Mor to make light work of top weight
The Nas Na Riogh Novice Chase - rescued from the Naas meeting lost last Sunday - and the Glen Chase are the main events on today's extra Thurles card on a busy day for racing here.
Rarely have we had such a hectic Friday schedule with Dundalk's all-weather venue re-opening its doors later in the evening with former champion jockey Pat Smullen returning overnight from the Dubai Carnival to resume his lengthy association with Dermot Weld.
This additional Thurles session is now confined to action over fences while the belated resumption on Dundalk's Polytrack surface kicks off with a couple of bumpers designed to cater for mostly older horses.
Fortunate to have Sizing Europe heading to Cheltenham again, Waterford trainer Henry de Bromhead has also picked up decent prizes with An Cathaoir Mor, which has a Grade One penalty to overcome this afternoon. David Casey's regular mount, which revels in testing conditions, steps up in trip here as well for the Grade Two Nas Na Riogh Chase that likewise features Jagoes Mills and Tally Em Up embarking on hat-trick missions.
The latter pair have both prospered in recent weeks under Davy Russell's guidance and it may well be significant that the Cork pilot has opted for Tom O'Leary's Jagoes Mills, whose stamina is guaranteed.
Whether that eight-year-old will have the speed to put hold-up performer An Cathaoir Mor to the sword over two and a half miles on a sharp track is debatable and the vote goes instead to De Bromhead's top weight.
The preceding Cashel Chase looks far less predictable, with most of the runners struggling to recapture their best form, so it may pay to side with the less-exposed Dooneys Gate rather than the novice Let Yourself Go.
Runners-up on their most recent outings, Donie Hassett's Droim Toll and the Edward O'Grady-trained Kasimali can resume winning ways in the concluding handicap chases before the spotlight switches to Dundalk.
In double form at Thurles yesterday, John 'Shark' Hanlon could maintain his renewed strike-rate at the Louth track when the High Chaparral-sired Yeomanry makes his debut in the opener with Patrick Mullins up.
Oliver McKiernan's promising novice hurdler Whodoyouthink has proven fitness to aid his cause in the Jackpot opener with Declan McDonogh aboard and should pay another compliment to his Leopardstown conqueror Dunguib.
The Weld-Smullen team can open their 2010 account with previous course and distance scorer Designated Decoy half an hour later, and Six Of Hearts likewise appeals in the finale after a recent outing at Kempton.