Berties' big chance to end drought
Nearly two years on from his shock triumph at the Cheltenham Festival, Berties Dream could finally return to the winner's enclosure at Thurles this afternoon.
Now in the care of Henry de Bromhead, the nine-year-old faces 11 middling rivals in the three-mile beginners' chase. If he reproduces the game performance that saw him just edged out by Start Me Up at Navan a month ago, he should prove himself worthy of the nap selection under regular rider Andrew Lynch.
The Mags Mullins-trained Marlay Park may be Berties Dream biggest threat. Brought down at Leopardstown over hurdles last week, that one had shown up well in its two previous chases during the autumn.
Earlier, the Grade Three Beamish Stout Phil Sweeney Memorial Chase gets proceedings under way. With €18,525 available for the winning team, this two-and-a-quarter-mile heat is the most valuable prize on offer, though it is poorly contested.
Just five line out, and Quel Esprit will need only to record a clear round to land the spoils for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend. A comfortable victor on his return at Naas, Mullins' grey has upwards of a stone in hand over each of his rivals.
Mullins' Quaguo De Flotte is opposed with Charles Byrnes' Andrew Lynch-ridden Jack Bene in the two-mile-six-furlong maiden hurdle, while Tellherimnothere gets the nod in the mares' equivalent.
John Joe Walsh's seven-year-old drew 18 lengths clear of the remainder when second to the useful A Country Girl at Tramore a week ago.
With Glibin, Espresso Lady and Galianna to beat, this won't be a formality for Tellherimnothere, but the former bumper winner should be good enough to score for the in-form Philip Enright.
Byrnes' Turtle Lady, a sister to the handler's dual Grade One winner Cailin Alainn, is a newcomer to note here under Davy Russell.