Groody Hill can land Thyestes for JP
Roche-trained grey has conditions in his favour to defy longshot tag in Gowran showpiece
All of 38 years after Brown Lad delivered Jim Dreaper his second and last winner of the Goffs Thyestes Chase, the wily Co Meath-based handler has a co-favourite for the 60th edition of the prestigious €100,000 handicap in Los Amigos.
Dreaper's legendary father Tom won Gowran Park's most famous race five times, including with his iconic duo Arkle and Flyingbolt, with 'Himself' lumping 12st to victory at odds-on under Pat Taaffe 50 years ago.
With that in mind, it would be fitting if Los Amigos could score for Andrew Lynch during the track's centenary celebrations.
However, as a market that has no less than five 8/1 shots sharing its lead, this 18-runner edition is wide-open. The novice Los Amigos certainly has a live chance under 10st 4lb, with his form franked nicely by Grand Jesture on Sunday.
A winner over flights at Thurles before Christmas, he ought to improve for the step up to three miles on what is just his third chasing start.
Willie Mullins saddles four in his quest to equal Tom Dreaper's record, with Paul Townend booked to steer the 2012 hero On His Own after Ruby Walsh opted for top-weight Vesper Bell, a casualty with a circuit to go at Warwick 12 days ago.
David Casey is on the 13-year-old Uncle Junior, as Bryan Cooper rides Balnaslow, one of three Gigginstown House Stud representatives. Another unexposed novice, the Presenting seven-year-old was third behind The Paparrazi Kid and Felix Yonger over an inadequate trip at Limerick, so he should be a major player here under 10st 11lb.
John Berry's Troytown victor Cootamundra, Tom Foley's hat-trick-seeking Playing and Dessie Hughes' useful novice Hunting Party are others to consider, but the one that appeals at the prices is longshot Groody Hill. The Christy Roche-trained grey, successful in the 2011 Troytown, is JP McManus' only runner in the race.
He missed last season through injury, but was completing a quick treble when he won the valuable Navan handicap and went on to finish third in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown off an 8lb higher mark of 132. On his return over flights at Fairyhouse on January 1, he raced keenly before tiring after a blunder three-out.
Understandably, he was allowed to come home in his own time, so that he was beaten 33 lengths there is not a concern. Groody Hill should come on a bundle for the run and the decision to apply a hood is of note, as he ought to race less freely as a result.
Off a revised mark of 129, the proven mudlark is taken to defy generous odds of 16/1 under Alan Crowe.
The remainder of a hugely popular card that rarely fails to attract a decent crowd is no less intriguing, with Zaidpour one of three that get the nod to score for the all-conquering Mullins-Walsh axis in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle.
Mala Beach, third to the selection in a middling Leopardstown Grade One over Christmas, reopposes in this €40,000 Grade Two, with his Gordon Elliott stable-mate Un Beau Matin another of the eight runners with a live chance. With three miles in these conditions in his favour, though, Zaidpour should replicate his 2012 win in this.
Dogora gets the nod for the same firm in the PMF Accountants Beginners' Chase and likewise Abbyssial in the Nugent Spirit 25 Horsebox Hurdle, while Tony Martin's Cassells Rock warrant's the nap vote in the Martinstown Handicap Hurdle. Second in deep ground at Limerick, the four-year-old stands out on his handicap bow under 9st 12lb.