Elliott to enjoy 'Champagne' at Thurles
Gordon Elliott is now a strong favourite to wrestle the Irish trainers' title off Willie Mullins and he can go a step closer today at Thurles by taking the feature Grade Three event.
Champagne Classic must reverse form with the Mullins-trained Tin Soldier in the At The Races Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle and he is no certainty to do so. However, when they clashed at Fairyhouse, the distance was three miles; today's two miles and a half may tilt the edge in favour of the top weight.
This is a nice race, with Moulin A Vent worthy of consideration too. Last time, he had to run behind Death Duty, and this is a good deal less complex.
They commence with a smart Thurles Racecourse Supporters' Club Rated Chase and Elliott has bright prospects of taking this with the veteran Realt Mor. A free-going tearaway on his day, he does not need to lead, and he looks the most reliable here: all of his foes flopped last time.
The mares' novice chase is a modest enough contest for the purse. Daisy's Gift, which was probably a tad flattered to finish second at the venue last time, should collect with a similar performance. Ruby Walsh takes over.
While Call The Taxie is a shade frustrating, he may be worth one more chance in the staying maiden hurdle.
The son of Scorpion rarely runs a bad race and has contested some nice heats. Crucially, he gets 8lb off Gettysburg Address, which was pretty underwhelming at Navan when putting in a disappointing round of jumping.
Davy Russell takes over on Call The Taxie with Rachael Blackmore - rather controversially serving a suspension this week - unable to take the steer. Russell may double up aboard the troublesome Our Vinnie, which would laugh at a mark of 122 at his best in the staying handicap hurdle.
A little must be taken on trust here, since the horse has not shown his best for quite some time, but nearly anything Russell rides for Charles Byrnes needs to be taken seriously and he has shot down the handicap.
The nap vote is Conna Cross in the lady amateurs' handicap hurdle. With Jane Mangan taking a break from riding, Lisa O'Neill rides for Jane's father Jimmy and this race could be run to suit this slightly frustrating horse.
Creation has sound prospects in the bumper under Davy Roche, though Martello Park is an obvious threat under Patrick Mullins.