Tharawaat can cause upset
DUAL Grade One winner Tranquil Sea will seek to maintain his excellent record in the opening race of a season when he bids for back-to-back wins in the Clonmel Oil Chase this afternoon.
The 2009 Paddy Power Gold Cup hero has not been beaten on any of his three previous seasonal reappearances since switching to fences in 2008.
In today's Grade Two, Edward O'Grady's nine-year-old needs to overcome just three lower-rated rivals to preserve that sequence, and the weights are framed very much in his favour.
Still, the less-exposed Tharawaat turned in a highly impressive performance under top-weight in a handicap on his return to action at Galway last month.
While the Gordon Elliott-trained six-year-old has 10lbs to find with Tranquil Sea on official figures, he remains open to that kind of progression.
Granted, the two-and-a-half-mile trip is short enough for Tharawaat, but Davy Russell's blinkered mount could enjoy an uncontested lead in the €29,250 contest.
In the subsequent EBF TA Morris Memorial Mares' Chase, the jockeys' championship leader has opted for Shop DJ over For Bill.
Again, Peter Fahey's Shop DJ has a couple of years in hand over For Bill, and she coasted up at Thurles three weeks ago.
However, For Bill is fancied to make amends for defeat in this last year. Mick Winters' stable star ran a nice race to be second at Listowel on her return, before struggling in the Munster National at Limerick, a track that has never suited her.
If For Bill can bounce back from that, she ought to take plenty beating now. Last year's winner, Blazing Tempo, lines out again under Ruby Walsh, but the Galway Plate victor is passed over after enduring a hard race in defeat at Down Royal last Saturday.
In the opening novice hurdle, Texas Jack and Make A Track put their unbeaten records on the line. Recent two-time winner Springfield Way also takes its chance in the four-runner field, but marginal preference is for the Carberry-ridden Texas Jack.
Having won the Land Rover Bumper on its debut, Noel Meade's five-year-old then scooted up on its jumping debut at Fairyhouse last month. Make A Track has done nothing wrong to date either, but Texas Jack may have the required touch of class.