2019 Clonmel Oil Chase tips – De Bromhead’s 11/10 star can strike it rich in Clonmel’s Thursday feature

Monalee can make a winning reappearance in the Clonmel Oil Chase on Thursday.Monalee can make a winning reappearance in the Clonmel Oil Chase on Thursday.

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the big race field for Thursday’s Grade Two feature race in Ireland.

The feature race of Thursday’s fixture at Clonmel in Ireland is the Grade Two Clonmel Oil Chase which gets underway at 2.50pm, and a small yet strong field of five runners goes to post for the 2m 4f contest which boasts a first prize of €45,000 to the winner.

One of the early season highlights of the Irish jumps calendar, this contest has been won by some notable names in the past including four-time winner Dorans Pride, Beef Or Salmon, Edredon Blue and War Of Attrition; while in more recent times the likes of Kemboy, Alpha Des Obeaux, Road To Riches, Champagne Fever and Sizing Europe have taken this prize.

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the five-runner field for Thursday’s Clonmel highlight where Douvan makes his long-awaited return to action following his spell on the sidelines.

Douvan (5/2, William Hill) has been absent from the track since being sent off a beaten favourite in the Punchestown Champion Chase behind Un De Sceaux, and if the Walk In The Park gelding returns here with the peak of his powers intact then he ought to take plenty of beating.

That is a big ‘if’ however, and Willie Mullins’ charge has a bit to prove now following his lengthy absence.

He had been unbeaten over obstacles until running a shocker in the 2017 Champion Chase behind Special Tiara, eventually finishing seventh of the ten runners who went to post, and there was clearly something amiss that day.

Subsequently absent for one year, he returned to action in the following year’s renewal of the same race where he fell while still tanking only four fences from home, and that might have left a mark going into his run at Punchestown where he was unable to land a glove on his stablemate.

He is yet to race over this longer trip which is another unknown to factor into his equation; but given his lengthy absence he could be worth taking on on this occasion while he proves his well-being.

Douvan makes his long awaited return to action in the Clonmel Oil Chase

Douvan makes his long awaited return to action in the Clonmel Oil Chase

MONALEE (11/10, Bet365) then could be the one to take advantage of any chink in Douvan’s armour, and Henry De Bromhead can make a winning return having proven he can go well fresh.

The Milan gelding won first time up as a hurdler, and the 2017 Stayers’ Hurdle runner-up has taken well to chasing where he won two of his first three starts which included a defeat of subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo in the 2018 Flogas Novices’ Chase before finding only Presenting Percy too good in that season’s RSA Chase.

His novice season also saw him fall twice, but any jumping weakness appeared to be ironed out last term with a solid return behind Snow Falcon – finished third – and then bumping into the top-class Kemboy on his next outing. However, he did get off the mark on his third run, beating Anibale Fly in the Red Mills Chase prior to a creditable fourth behind Frodon in the Ryanair Chase.

Not at his best though when last seen where he was abruptly pulled up, possibly amiss behind Kemboy in the Punchestown Gold Cup, he returns fresh following a break and could well prove a different proposition now back at this shorter trip over which he remains unexposed.

A winner of two of his three outings when making his seasonal return, he handles soft ground well and he looks to hold solid claims of making a successful return to action.

Jett (10/1, Paddy Power) is a very decent chase exponent when everything falls right, as was the case when he outpointed Alpha Des Obeaux in the recent Grade Three Irish Daily Star Chase last month; but Jessica Harrington’s charge has more on his plate this time around.

The Flemensfirth gelding had previously struck over The Storyteller in the Grade Two Devenish Chase at Fairyhouse in April, but subequent runs saw him twice come off worst behind the reopposing Peregrine Run, and on his form with that rival he has plenty to find.

He beat only one home behind Snow Falcon on his reappearance in the PWC Champion Chase, but the step up to three miles for his last run seemed to deliver a jolt of improvement and he was strong at the finish over Alpha Des Obeaux and Tout Est Permis – who also lines up in opposition – so a drop back to this shorter trip is likely to leave him vulnerable back up in grade.

Jessica Harrington sends Jett into Clonmel Oil Chase battle

Jessica Harrington sends Jett into Clonmel Oil Chase battle

Tout Es Permis (7/1, William Hill) reeled off a hat-trick last term, which included the Grade Two Horse And Jockey Hotel Chase having earlier won the competitive Troytown Handicap Chase on his previous outing; but Noel Meade’s charge was unable to land the four-timer having shaped like a non-stayer in the Irish Grand National.

The Linda’s Lad gelding finished eighth on that occasion, beaten around sixty lengths, while he should strip fitter for his seven lengths’ third-place finish behind Jett last month so an improved showing wouldn’t come as a surprise and he is still relatively unexposed over fences so may have more still to offer.

Versatile with regards to trip having won over this distance and at three miles, he could give a good account of himself but likely needs to find a fair jolt of progress and might need better ground than he’ll encounter here.

Peregrine Run (5/1, Bet365) completes the field, and the King’s Theatre gelding has been mixing hurdling with chasing to good effect over the past couple of seasons.

Peter Fahy’s charge won five on the spin over the summer, four of which came over fences including posting a win over the reopposing Jett; but his winning spree was halted in the Galway Plate although he did post a very solid fourth-place finish.

Following a break of a couple of a months, he was far from disgraced behind Snow Falcon on his reappearance, finishing runner-up before getting back to winning ways at Thurles latest over hurdles where he took advantage of his lower hurdles mark, and he arrives here fit.

This is tougher back in a Grade Two where the ground is likely to be against him given his best form has come on much quicker conditions, but he gets on very well with Kevin Sexton and blinkers are retained having had a good effect so he could run well although the testing ground might find him out at this level.

VERDICT

Douvan makes his long awaited return to action following a lengthy layoff, but there is a suspicion he’ll need this first run while he tackles the longer trip for the first time. As a result, MONALEE (11/10, Bet365) gets the verdict to make a winning return to action and spoil the Douvan comeback.

The Milan gelding is 2-3 on his seasonal debut, and following a decent campaign last term he shaped as if amiss on his final outing at Punchestown behind Kemboy back in May. However, he could return here in much better fettle, and he looks to have plenty in his favour with trip and ground no issue.

His record on his reappearance augurs well, and with the yard in decent fettle at present then he could be the one to expose any chinks in the Douvan armour to make another winning seasonal return.

2019 CLONMEL OIL CHASE SELECTION – MONALEE (11/10, Bet365)