Arvika to lift prize for Mullins
A year after Sizing Europe lit up the Clonmel Oil Chase with an exhilarating virtuoso exhibition, today's edition of the Grade Two is intriguing for very different reasons.
This time, five of the six runners are rated within 10lbs of each other, while the one that falls just below that bracket is Willie Mullins' classy, but iffy jumper, Mikael D'Haguenet. In all probability, though, the champion trainer's best chance of landing the €29,250 winner's prize will come via Arvika Ligeonniere, top-rated here off 160.
On their day, Rubi Light and Foildubh would be capable of getting involved in the finish, but Toner D'Oudairies and Texas Jack are the two expected to give Arvika Ligeonniere most to do now. Second and third respectively behind Rolling Aces at Down Royal, both will be suited by conditions, with race-fitness another definite plus.
On the other hand, you couldn't say that Arvika Ligeonniere's lack of a recent run counts as a negative for him, as he often looks at his most potent after a break. Three times a Grade One winner as a novice last term, Ruby Walsh's mount is a strong-travelling, bold-jumping force of nature that relishes deep ground.
Yesterday, the chase course at Powerstown Park was officially described as good to yielding. With that in mind, Arvika Ligeonniere may prove vulnerable to something like Toner D'Oudairies, but the suspicion is that he will still have enough class to win.
Mullins' relentless bandwagon also gets the nod to collect with Unic De Bersy and Sarabad in the maiden and handicap hurdles, while Sean O'Brien's Caoimhe's Delight is fancied in the EBF TA Morris Memorial Mares' Chase. This is another decent graded contest, with less than a stone covering six of the eight runners.
However, Caoimhe's Delight appeals as nap material under Barry Geraghty after an unlucky defeat at Thurles, where a mistake at the final fence saw her thwarted by Fantastic Gold over two-and-a-quarter miles. Here, the half-sister to the Champion Bumper third Golantilla returns to a more suitable two-and-a-half-mile trip.
An unexposed and progressive seven-year-old, she should make amends if she enjoys some luck in running.