Burke's Sumos Novios will be no pushover at Thurles
Liam Burke and Andrew McNamara are trusted to land the day's nap vote with Sumos Novios on a low-key card at Thurles.
The nine-runner beginners' chase that Sumos Novios contests isn't a bad race, with Morney Wing, Rye Martini and Feenakilmeedy all capable of mixing it up. Morney Wing has yet to win a race in eight attempts, but his third to Apache Jack at Navan last time constituted a decent fencing bow.
If Sandra Hughes' charge improves, he could be a threat, but Sumos Novios is preferred. A Punchestown point-to-point winner two years ago, the Flemensfirth seven-year-old was third in a bumper before being sidelined for a year-and-a-half.
On his return at Punchestown in November, he ran a blinder to be fourth behind Valseur Lido over two-and-a-half miles. Sumos Novios built on that when second to Mala Beach over two-six at the same track in December, but he is an old-fashioned chaser that really needs three miles.
He gets that now, so he is expected to take a bit of beating.
In the mares' novices' chase, Elsie appeals most. Tom Mullins' bumper and dual hurdle-winning daughter of Milan likes a bit of decent ground, which isn't entirely out of the question here.
Moreover, the return to three miles could prove key. On Elsie's only previous try at the distance, she ran well to be third to Martello Tower in a Grade Three at Cork in November, which was a career-best effort. If she runs to a similar level now, she ought to take a bit of stopping under Paul Townend.
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh could take the maiden hurdle with Lockstockandbarrel, while Speed Demon and Old Time Melody might be Bryan Cooper's best rides. The Gordon Elliott-trained Speed Demon has been frustrating but no more than that, and there might not be anything good enough to trouble him in the two-mile-six-furlong maiden hurdle.
Old Time Melody is trained by Cooper's father Tom, a shrewd operator who hasn't had the horses to match his talents over the past few years. At Fairyhouse last month, Old Time Melody got off the mark quite convincingly off a rating of 88.
He is six pounds higher in today's handicap hurdle, but he is progressive enough to follow up in what isn't a great race despite the 18-strong field.