Bowen gets Elliott call to end his Thyestes wait
There are very few valuable handicap prizes which have eluded Gordon Elliott and the Meath handler is leaving no stone unturned to break his Thyestes Chase duck by enlisting teenage sensation James Bowen to partner Out Sam in today's €100,000 Gowran Park feature (3.0).
Elliott is blazing a trail again this season in his bid to prise the Irish trainers' championship from 11-time champion Willie Mullins and the booking of 16-year-old Bowen - fresh from high-profile wins in the Lanzarote Hurdle and Welsh Grand National - forced a significant change at the head of the betting.
With leading fancy Polidam a notable absentee from the 15-runner field, the money piled in for Out Sam (general 9/2 favourite) after the nine-year-old squeezed in at the foot of the weights with British conditional jockeys' championship leader Bowen set to take another valuable 3lbs off.
Comparisons with the legendary Tony McCoy have already been made but should Bowen fail to succeed on Out Sam - without a win in nearly two years but having just his second run for Elliott - there are plenty of able substitutes to pick up the pieces.
The Cullentra-based trainer throws another five darts at the Goffs-sponsored feature with Ucello Conti bidding to shed his bridesmaid tag in big handicaps after a gallant second in this race 12 months ago and a third-place finish in 2016.
He showed his rude health when runner-up in Leopardstown's Paddy Power Chase last month and the gruelling 3m1f trip and heavy going will play to his strengths, while Monbeg Notorious - the mount of Jack Kennedy - is one of the leading lights of a Gigginstown House Stud quintet.
Owner Michael O'Leary also has a live chance with the Noel Meade-trained A Genie In Abottle, which is on a retrieval mission after disappointing in the Ladbrokes Trophy, while champion trainer Willie Mullins has his eyes fixed on a magnificent Thyestes seven.
Djakadam, the 2015 winner, landed the most recent of his six victories and the Closutton handler is double-handed with last year's fourth Pleasant Company and Isleofhopendreams, which is racing over fences for only the second time in his career, as he looks to close the gap on Elliott in their title race.
Rachael Blackmore will become the first female rider to win the famous chase if Call The Taxie prevails for Kilkenny trainer Ellmarie Holden while last year's victor Champagne West attempts to become the first back-to-back winner since Priests Leap in 2008 and 2009.
The fairytale story may be elsewhere, however, with Cork trainer Liam Burke - who has just 15 horses in his care - saddling the talented-but-fragile Sumos Novios.
Gold Cup-winning jockey Robbie Power was aboard two years ago when My Murphy prevailed for Burke and the two combine again with a 10-year-old that will revel in the energy-sapping conditions.
At double-figure odds, he could be the value on a seven-race card which will see the fence before the home straight omitted from the two chases due to ground concerns .
Elsewhere, the Grade 2 John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle (1.50) is a suitable appetiser as Mullins saddles Let's Dance, Augusta Kate and Bacardys, with the latter on a retrieval mission after a spill over fences last month.
Alpha Des Obeaux, the 2016 winner, returns while Presenting Percy, impressive over fences this season, takes advantage of favourable conditions to contest a hot eight-runner contest.
The concluding bumper (4.10) sees Nina Carberry aboard Young Ted - notable given her marriage to Ted Walsh Jnr - and her stiffest competition may come from her sister-in-law Katie Walsh on Major Fawcett, a horse trained by father-in-law Ted Snr and owned by mother-in-law Helen.