Gowran Park – Thyestes Chase Day Preview

CeeBee previews a few races on the Gowran Park Thyestes card and he has bets in the big race and in the Galmoy Hurdle with My Murphy and At Fishers Cross.

From the outside ‘The race that stops a County’ is a rather pathetic gimmick to boost the Thyestes Chase by Gowran Park’s marketing team. I guess it is best described as ‘A Kilkenny thing’. From 2002 to 2012, I made 11 consecutive Thyestes Days. Not bad for a Thursday meeting. The first few in school uniform, forgoing Rag week in college for the next few and even more recently when work was on the agenda. Anyhow that’s enough personal reminiscing; this year’s bet in the race is My Murphy.

This renewal is not full of exciting unexposed types, but the overall makeup of the race is strong. The 2nd, 3rd & 5th from the PaddyPower are here (Ucello Conti, Folsom Blue & The Job is Right). The 5th in the Beecher (Vics Canvas). The Troytown winner (Riverside City). Last year’s 2nd to Djakadam (My Murphy) and the Irish National 1st and 2nd (Thunder and Roses and Rule the World).

The Paddy Power trio will be tough to split. Vics Canvas doesn’t look well handicapped. Jack Kennedy’s 5lbs may get Rule the World over the line but it’s getting over the line first has been his issue for a while. Thunder and Roses is aiming for Aintree.

I expected more from Mala Beach last time. Ok he’ll prefer this ground and trip, but at 6/1 I’d happily look elsewhere. His jumping hasn’t always been foot-perfect. Ballycasey has plenty of questions to answer but for me the issue is he never truly convinced as a stayer over 3m+. Leavethelighton was an outsider I could’ve made a small case for but having been ‘pricewised’ he no longer appeals. Buckers Bridge is potentially well-handicapped but has plenty to prove with just one start in 20mts.

My Murphy is the one I like. He finished 2nd to Djakadam last year; there’s no Djakadam in Gowran this year. My Murphy returns off the same handicap mark. It was tough conditions with only 6 of the 17 finishing last year. I expect similar tomorrow. Gowran can get very deep and with the steep hill at the end of the back straight to be climbed twice, 3m1f here can take some getting. All of My Murphy’s best form, including 4 wins have come over 3m on soft and heavy ground.

Last year’s form worked out well too. The Midlands National winner Goonyella was 3rd and Gallant Oscar who was 4th went on to run well at Cheltenham and win at Punchestown. Since the Thyestes My Murphy has raced 4 times. His efforts in both the G2 Bobbyjo and the Irish National were solid just not good enough. His first outing this season was encouraging; 3rd to Fine Rightly over 2m4f at Navan. That trip would’ve been on the sharp side for My Murphy and the form has been held up with Fine Rightly, Ucello Conti and Leavethelighton all running ok without winning next time. My Murphy flopped in the Paddy Power but hey, so did Empire of Dirt and he just won last weekend. My Murphy wasn’t too sharp in the Paddy Power last year before running very well here also so I’m happy to ignore it.

Just like Empire of Dirt, My Murphy missed the break last time and was always on the back foot. He had too much to do and too much traffic in front of him when making critical mistakes at 3out and 2out. After that Robbie Power gave up. This may be a blessing; Folsom Blue, Ucello Conti and The Job is Right had a tough battle up the straight and have had only 3wks to recover.

Knowing he’ll thrive in the conditions makes My Murphy an attractive each way bet at 20/1

The Galmoy Hurdle is the other big race on the day and it is a strong renewal, despite having just the 5 runners. I’m a big Martello Tower fan, but having finished 5L behind Aplha des Obeaux (off level weights) last time it’s difficult to say he’ll reverse the places conceding 7lbs here. Martello should improve for his first outing of the season but it’ll be tough for him conceding weight all around.

Whilst the Christmas hurdle didn’t work out ideally for Alpha, being left in front very early, there was no major fluke about the result. Prince of Scars was rated only 145 beforehand. For me there’s still a major question mark over his form. Granted he’s met plenty of good horses along the way but Alpha hasn’t won in 6 starts since his maiden hurdle. 7/4 in this company, no thanks.

Briar Hill has yet to prove 3miles is for him, as a novice I felt he had more than enough speed for shorter trips. He offered very little last winter in 3 starts, including when beaten 13L in this race. It’s well documented he’s a lazy sort who doesn’t light up the gallops at home so it makes sense that he’ll come on a lot for the racecourse appearance.

Noble Emperor is a decent sort but he’s a little out of his depth here. Just a little mind.

At Fishers Cross is winless in 10 starts after his novice campaign. However he’s clear top rated here and for all the abuse that goes his way, he finished 4th in the World Hurdle when last seen. 4th of 16 behind Cole Harden, Zarkandar and Saphir du Rheu. That’s good form. All the Irish staying hurdlers were at least 6L behind him. There’s no guarantee Alpha des Obeaux or Martello Tower could match that level of form. He wore blinkers for the first time that day and they are kept on again which is a positive. Barry Geraghty replacing McCoy may actually be a positive also. One can only assume he’s showing a decent level of form recently to warrant making the trip from Curtis’ yard. At the prices I’ll be backing the visitor.

Elsewhere on the card:

You shouldn’t be rushing to make the first. We’ll hardly learn much about Footpad. If we excuse his last run due to the ground, the form of his win prior to that marks him down as a leading Irish 4yo.

In the Beginners Chase Tell Us More is not one I’d be rushing to back at odds on. Finishing alongside Mr Diablo last time is not strong form. Marinero isn’t very reliable and may be prepping for a spring handicap however so perhaps look further down the field for an each way bet. Maybe the locally trained Run for Firth will try.

If the first race is worth missing, the bumper is definitely worth hanging around for. Winners from the Mullins, Elliott and Harrington yards should serve up a decent finale.

Advised Bets

2 points win win At Fishers Cross at 13/2 with Stan James - 6/1 with Betway, Ladbrokes and BetVictor

1 point each way My Murphy 20/1 at Paddy Power and Stan James