Sir Des Champs seeks redemption at Thurles
Nearly two years after his tame submission to Bobs Worth in the Lexus Chase, the 2013 Gold Cup runner-up, Sir Des Champs, will be the latest to attempt a fairytale comeback at Thurles this afternoon.
At Aintree earlier in the month, it was Bobs Worth that initiated a succession of romantic resurrections, seeing off Simonsig to score for a first time since his Leopardstown victory.
More Of That and Sprinter Sacre followed in a similarly redemptive vein at Cheltenham last weekend, so it would be apt if Sir Des Champs can emulate Bobs Worth in today's Listed chase over two miles and six furlongs.
After his gallant turn behind Bobs Worth in the Gold Cup, Willie Mullins's son of Robin Des Champs denied Long Run at Punchestown to secure his third Grade One. He then fell at the same track on his reappearance, before posting that lacklustre effort on his most recent outing.
At nine years of age, he isn't too old to be competitive, and he will be good enough to win this six-runner affair if he is close to his best. Still, a watching brief is advised.
Sir Des Champs has always been a shade laborious, so the fear would be that Bryan Cooper's mount might need this run. Lyreen Legend is the obvious alternative on ratings, but he also has a lay-off to overcome. It might be worth taking a chance on the talented Mala Beach.
Gordon Elliott's seven-year-old is the youngest and most unexposed. A dour stayer that won two Grade Twos over hurdles, he ran just three times over fences last term, finishing second to The Tullow Tank at Fairyhouse before a win at Punchestown. He was disappointing on his only other run when fourth behind Don Poli at Leopardstown over Christmas, but that wasn't his true form, as his subsequent absence would seem to confirm.
Clearly, this is going to be a big test, but Mala Beach has real potential. He has the scope to step up and provide Davy Russell with a first win since yesterday's return from injury. Elliott's only other runner is Roman Gold in the novices' hurdle.
The Clonmel winner has a chance, but Cooper has deserted him for Mouse Morris' Just Cause, which is nap material after a fine recent win at Cork.
Mullins and Ruby Walsh could take the beginners' chase with the smart Moyle Park. Another returning from a long lay-off, Moyle Park was third to The Tullow Tank when last in Grade One company in 2013. That was his first defeat and he can regain the winning thread here.