Sunday Thurles tips – 9/2 Grade Two double for the day’s Irish feature racecard

Brian Healy gives two selections in a double covering Sunday's Grade Two prizes in Ireland at Thurles.

Two cracking Grade Two prizes go to post on Sunday’s racecard at Thurles, with the Grade Two Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase the feature race of the day at 2.45pm, followed immediately by the Irish EBFMares Novice Chase.

The first-named race carries a first prize in excess of €26,000 for the winner, and Noel Meade took top honours in the race twelve months ago with Tout Est Permis; while the latter race saw Camelia De Cotte win for Willie Mullins, and the second of the day’s Grade Two prizes boasts a €34,500 purse to the winner.

2:45 Thurles – Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase (Grade 2) (6yo+) 2m4½f
3:20 Thurles – Coolmore N.H. Sires Capri Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase (Grade 2) (5yo+) 2m4½f

Brian Healy looks over both races and gives his selections for the two Thurles feature races in a X/x double.


2:45 Thurles – Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase (Grade 2) (6yo+) 2m4½f

FOOTPAD (8/15, William Hill) can take the odd chance with his jumping, but Willie Mullins’ charge is the clear pick of this quintet at the weights, and the Creachadoir gelding can get back on the scoresheet.

A winner of his first five starts over fences as a novice which included the 2018 Arkle Chase at Cheltenham as well as Punchestown’s Ryanair Novice Chase, things didn’t go to plan for him last term where he fell on his seasonal reappearance at Naas before coming off second-best behind Simply Ned on his next outing.

The Mullins contender then disappointed in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, finishing eighth behind Frodon, but he wasn’t seen out again following that run as the Closutton trainer called time on his campaign.

However, he has been in much better form this term, getting back on the winning trail in a Listed contest at Thurles in November where he ran out a ten lengths’ winner over Mala Beach and Jetz – the latter reopposes here – and he looked a non-stayer when not disgraced in the King George VI Chase at Kempton last month where he plugged on at one pace.

He was only five lengths behind runner-up Cyrname, and he ought to appreciate a return to this lesser trip which will suit him better, while a return to the scene of his last victory might provide a positive spark.

Ground conditions shouldn’t present a problem, and while he is the top-rated in the field at 165 – 4lbs higher than next-top rated Hardline – he gets 7lbs from that rival and 5lbs from progressive stablemate Real Steel; so if he comes back to his best over this shorter trip than his latest Kempton outing then he could prove a tough nut to crack.

Footpad looked back to top form when winning on his return at Thurles and can win again back at this venue.

3:20 Thurles – Coolmore N.H. Sires Capri Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase (Grade 2) (5yo+) 2m4½f

Willie Mullins could again hold the key to a big prize, and Ellimay will be popular having beaten the reopposing Agusta Gold on her chase debut at Cork last month. That was over two miles however, and so it might be worth chancing the other Closutton runner in CUT THE MUSTARD (11/4, William Hill) who is proven over this longer trip and gets 3lbs at the weights from her stablemate.

The Al Namix mare wasn’t as good as her stablemate over hurdles, but she looked a smart chasing prospect on her reappearance and chase debut at Limerick over the Festive period where she hacked up with a 14-lengths defeat of Denham Hana and others where she hardly came off the bridle despite making a couple of mistakes.

That form isn’t as strong as Elimay’s chase debut which came in a Grade Three contest, but she handles this ground well and has stamina to burn which could prove a positive factor at the business end of what could be a strongly-run race with no shortage of pace in the line-up.

She is open to plenty of improvement following her first run over fences and while she does need a shade more on balance given the form of her debut win came in a lesser grade than that of her stablemate, she could well deliver in receipt of weight and she can confirm herself a very useful chasing prospect this campaign.

Cut The Mustard can claim a Grade Two win over fences at Thurles on Sunday.