Augusta Kate to make winning return on cracking Thurles card
Thurles' regular Thursday offering is above-average today in quality terms, with the return to action of some high-class horses.
A winner of four Grade Ones, but none over fences, the grey Champagne Fever has been off for 576 days ahead of the Listed Boomerang Animal Bedding And Boomerang Horse & Country Store Chase.
However, the Noel Meade-trained Wounded Warrior has more stamina and may narrowly prevail. Gigginstown is set to have a profitable meet and this one, also making his return to action, was beaten narrowly as a novice by Valseur Lido in a Grade One.
Bryan Cooper rides in preference to Roi Des Francs, but Jack Kennedy's mount is far from hopeless in a compelling race. The novice hurdle is restricted to horses rated 123 or less. Gigginstown's Dounikos is a dour stayer and should take the beating under Cooper, with reservations about Bobarlee's ability to get a trip not far shy of three miles.
Augusta Kate, owned partly by Alan Shearer and Lee Westwood, was one of the best bumper mares we saw last term. With Ruby Walsh to steer her, she looks to have a simple task in the Sportsmens Mares Maiden Hurdle.
Many eyes are on Admiral Chief in the Richard Brennan Fencing Services Flat Race, given his big reputation when joining Mouse Morris from Willie Mullins earlier this year. However, he is no certainty and the Mullins-trained Sharps Joice, as well as Woods Well, have to be feared.
Gigginstown's General Principle is napped in the opening Jim Murphy Contract Fence Builder Beginners' Chase. Quite a classy novice hurdler, he came out worst in a 1-2-3 for the owner in an informative Naas event on his chasing bow.
A 10/1 chance on that occasion, Cooper now takes over from David Mullins and he will be really difficult to beat, with Jimmy Two Times probably wanting farther and Bellow Mome lacking chasing experience.
Gordon Elliott, who has a lead over Willie Mullins of almost €400,000 in the trainers' standings this term, continues to churn out a series of well-fancied horses. Canny Tom will not snare much of a purse if taking the Fogarty Concrete Novice Handicap Hurdle but every little helps. However, jumping continues to handicap this one.
Stablemate and top weight Broughtons Star could give weight and a beating to all in the other handicap hurdle. Preference is for the Luke Dempsey-ridden Mossy Island.
His trainer, Sabrina Harty, has been extremely quiet this season, with only 11 runners so far.
The going is relatively fast at Thurles, yielding as of yesterday, and a decent crowd is expected this afternoon.