Sport Horse Racing

Monday 19 August 2019

Clonmel cracker in store as Road To Riches makes return

Noel Meade will be hoping that Road To Riches can make a winning seasonal debut under Bryan Cooper in this afternoon's Clonmel Oil Chase
Noel Meade will be hoping that Road To Riches can make a winning seasonal debut under Bryan Cooper in this afternoon's Clonmel Oil Chase

Richard Forristal

A cracking card at Clonmel features the return of Davy Russell after two-and-a-half months on the sidelines as well as the return of last season's Gold Cup third, Road To Riches.

Throw in the reappearance of Willie Mullins's late-maturing star Felix Yonger, his unbeaten chaser Vroum Vroum Mag and the Irish Grand National hero Thunder And Roses, and the showpiece fixture at the south Tipperary venue promises plenty. Road To Riches and Felix Yonger tackle the €47,500 Clonmel Oil Chase.

Russell, who fractured bones in his right foot and left arm when thrown in the parade ring at Cork at the end of August, partners Tim Doyle's stable stalwart Mallowney in this two-and-a-half-miler. On soft ground, the nine-year-old is sure to figure prominently but he remains unproven over this trip.

Felix Yonger beat Mallowney more than once last term, including when securing a first Grade One at Punchestown. Another that loves some cut in the ground, his only reversal last season was when beaten by Moscow Mannon on his first outing at Naas.

Ruby Walsh's mount could prove hard to beat but Road To Riches should better him. A dual Grade One winner last term, Noel Meade's charge was carried out on his shield behind Coneygree and Djakadam after being ridden aggressively in the Gold Cup. As a result of his Cheltenham exertions in deep ground, it was no surprise to see Road To Riches struggle to replicate that form in Punchestown. Only time will tell if his endeavours have left a permanent mark. For now, though, he warrants the benefit of the doubt. All things being equal, he should win this under Bryan Cooper.

Mullins and Walsh will have little trouble plundering the TA Morris Memorial Mares' Chase for a fourth time in six years with Vroum Vroum Mag. Just four have been declared for the €35,000 Grade Three, and Perfect Promise, Miss Dinamic and Emcon are more than capable.

However, Vroum Vroum Mag is a superior animal, so it will be a massive surprise if she doesn't stretch her 100pc record over fences to six. The same firm might also take the concluding conditions hurdle with Noble Inn, while Thunder And Roses is quietly fancied to make a winning return in the three-mile handicap hurdle.

Just three pounds lower than when recording that famous Irish Grand National success for Sandra Hughes and Katie Walsh in the spring, his form, in general, last year was very smart, so he could go close for David Mullins.

Russell can deliver the day's nap vote aboard Jetstream Jack in the opening maiden hurdle. Gordon Elliott's smart bumper horse didn't have a hard race on his hurdling bow, finishing third behind Archive and Disko after some sluggish leaps at Galway.

The Beneficial five-year-old should come on for that, which would make him a formidable proposition.

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