'Jack' could prove the answer to tricky Thyestes
Gowran regulars, for whom today is the unquestionable highlight of the racing year, will struggle to remember terrain so lively on Goffs Thyestes day.
They are calling it soft on both tracks but yesterday was quite a drying day by the standards of January and it could ride closer to good than soft. That is not what many of the runners in the big one want.
Prince Of Scars would have been the selection if it were proper winter ground. Connections have said all season that is what he wants - and three miles. At least he gets the latter.
His stablemate, Jetstream Jack, is said to be more at ease when there is some give underfoot too. Perhaps his status as a novice might seem offputting but that has not stopped his trainer Gordon Elliott winning a similar event on Sunday with A Toi Phil.
The Elliott run in handicap chases worth six figures - he has won all seven that were run in Ireland this season - is sensational. In running no fewer than seven today, he ensures that Willie Mullins failed to get in either Sabremont or ante-post favourite The Crafty Butcher.
One of Elliott's septet, Shadow Catcher, was pulled up at Leopardstown only last Sunday. Jetstream Jack travelled sweetly enough on spring ground in the Martin Pipe last season. He may get away with conditions today and has a nice, low weight.
The in-form Noel Meade managed to sneak in three runners. Bonny Kate's brother, Mala Beach, was second in the race last year. Wounded Warrior has not set the world alright as a sophomore chaser but he is not hopeless at the prices. Another to consider is another Elliott runner, Ucello Conti, which took a wide course in third in this 12 months ago.
The John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle honours one of the characters of racing, the late trainer who had Galmoy at a time when he was one of the only horses Irish people expected to win at the Cheltenham Festival.
Clondaw Warrior, which gave Vroum Vroum Mag a race at Leopardstown over the Christmas period, rates a dark one for the Stayers' Hurdle.
He has proven he gets the staying distance quite conclusively and makes plenty of appeal, with Ruby Walsh taking over.
On the evidence of that Foxrock clash, the Galway Hurdle winner seems to have an edge over Snow Falcon and Shaneshill. He'll relish the conditions.
Bon Papa, a gorgeous son of Network which drops back markedly in yardage, can take what rates a pretty moderate opening Langton House Hotel Maiden Hurdle on the day that's in it. He has been keen and the trip will be an aid in that regard, though he looks likely to be a much better chaser.
The same connections - Willie Mullins and owner JP McManus - provide one of the better bets of the afternoon in Great Field, though a curious aspect of this PMF Accountants Beginners Steeplechase is that Barry Geraghty does not ride him.
Instead, Jody McGarvey takes the mount. This meant that the horse was put in a good bit bigger than he would have been under Geraghty in the overnight betting and he may nevertheless prove the answer.
Let us remember that Great Field was sent off a market leader in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham last season when last seen. He had previously cruised to a Leopardstown win on his Irish debut, albeit under Geraghty.
Alamgiyr looks intriguing at a big price in the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle for Mooncoin handler Eoin Doyle, whose steeds tend to run well at Gowran. A reasonable maiden on the Flat for Michael Halford and Doyle, he should be getting better now the ground has come in his favour, and he can jump cleaner with experience. Backinthesaddle is a reliable alternative.
The Willie Mullins-trained Wood Breizh has a chance in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle under Niall Kelly, who rides Backinthesaddle. However, another big-priced horse is put up here in Tawseef, which is nicely weighed now, performs around this tricky track and has the ground in his favour.
The closing PJ Foley Memorial Flat Race looks pretty straightforward for Getabird, favourite for the equivalent race at the Cheltenham Festival. He was quite impressive at Fairyhouse and, while Hardline should travel well for most of the race, expect the hot favourite to pull out more.
In the unlikely event of Getabird being scratched, backers of Hardline would benefit enormously from the limitations of the Rule 4 system.