Thursday at Thurles – Overview of the Listed Action in Ireland

Darver Star runs in the Listed BetVictor Chase at Thurles on ThursdayDarver Star runs in the Listed BetVictor Chase at Thurles on Thursday

Rundown of the Beginners Chase and Listed BetVictor Chase

The action in Ireland begins to hot up this week’s racing on Thursday. Thurles plays host to an intriguing Beginners Chase for novices, as well as the Listed BetVictor Chase, featuring a couple of well-known names.

12:05 BetVictor Beginners Chase

Starting at the top, CIEL DE NEIGE represents Willie Mulline and JP McManus. For a six-year-old he’s vastly experienced: he has had 17 runs over hurdles, three of which have come at the Cheltenham Festival, including a third place finish in the Boodles Juvenile handicap in 2019. He is officially rated 139 in that sphere and his consistent efforts make him one to watch closely over fences.

Jessica Harrington’s CROSSHILL contested two Grade 1 novice hurdles last season, but while he was not up to that standard, his rating of 138 is almost a perfect match of Ciel De Neige. He was second in the novice handicap final at Fairyhouse in April over three miles, suggesting this trip might be a bit sharp. Nevertheless, he beat Albert Bartlett winner Vanillier on his debut last season, so clearly has ability.

SOVIET PIMPERNEL boasts the highest rating over hurdles:142, having won a Grade 3 as a four-year-old. However, his chasing career simply didn’t take off last season. Too many mistakes resulted in him pulling up on his first chase start, before two further defeats and a fall. The ability might be there, but there’s pressure to show it against this field.

The astonishingly well-bred DARK SPARK is the other horse of note. By Presenting, the sire of Denman, War Of Attrition and Yorkhill to name but a few, his dam is Grade 1 winning hurdler Voler La Vodette. It’s an exceptional jumps pedigree and while he still needs to improve on his hurdles form, there’s every chance he’ll make a superior chaser and market support for Mick Winters’ charge would be noteworthy.

Cilaos Emery steps up in trip for Willie Mullins.

Cilaos Emery steps up in trip for Willie Mullins.

1:05 BetVictor Chase

Dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo is an absentee, but the four-runner field still features a pair of very useful chasers.

The first is CILAOS EMERY who has always fallen just short of top class, but has racked up three Graded victories over fences. Last season was a tough one for the nine-year-old, with heavy defeats in both the Cheltenham and Punchestown Champion Chases, but he did run Samcro, who was on a going day, to within a neck in Killarney’s Grade 3 An Riocht Chase on his final start.

This represents his first start beyond two-and-a-half miles. Perhaps with experience comes stamina and in this field, he’s very much the one to beat.

His most serious opposition is DARVER STAR, the great improver from two seasons ago. Back then, he chased Honeysuckle to within half-a-length over hurdles and finished third in the Champion Hurdle too. Last year over fences proved a different entity and he arrives here, also up in trip, with a point to prove. Five heavy defeats now precede him, but he did still manage a runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting a year ago.

The other two will be well beaten if Cilaos Emery and Darver Star put in complete rounds of jumping. KNOCK ON STEEL is not a bad handicapper, but way below this level and MAMASLITTLESTAR will be readily outclassed.