Thursday’s race of the day – Tips for the big handicap hurdle at Clonmel

A view of the runners in a handicap hurdle over in Ireland.A view of the runners in a handicap hurdle over in Ireland.

We take a look through the runners in the three-mile handicap hurdle at Clonmel and provide readers with our tips on Thursday 14th November.

All eyes will be on the mighty Douvan at Clonmel, as Willie Mullins’ star makes his long-awaited return from injury in the Clonmel Oil Chase. Before we reach that Grade Two, there’s a lucrative handicap hurdle to take in and our expert has taken a look through the runners to provide his tips.

Cloudy Morning

Eleven-year-old who was last seen finishing sixth in the Cork Grand National. Rated 17 pounds lower over hurdles and carries bottom-weight here. Only wins in handicap hurdles have come when rated 104 and 100. Currently seven pounds higher than that and beaten 15 lengths off this mark in October.


Remains a maiden in Ireland but won over hurdles in France. Finished second on handicap debut at Cork in March, winner has won twice since. Placed behind useful sorts on both starts so far this season. Soft ground will suits and looks to be running off workable mark. Leading claims.

Envol Pieji

Second to Chantry House between the flags. Failed to win in two starts over hurdles last season, finishing second and fourth. Cruised to victory in maiden on reappearance and should take well to this extended trip. Beat seemingly nothing that day though and lacks experience of rivals.

Fine Theatre

Better over fences than over hurdles. Won handicap off 117 back in March but beaten off this mark at Punchestown Festival. Seems to do best work in the spring. Poor record when fresh.

High Sparrow

Didn’t seem to enjoy going chasing during the summer. Well beaten on all four starts. Jumped and travelled much better when winning handicap over course-and-distance on return to hurdling two weeks ago. Beaten four times off marks lower than this in handicaps last season, but comes into this on back of a career-high mark. Respected.

Joseph O'Brien has a strong record here at Clonmel and will have high hopes for High Sparrow.

Joseph O’Brien has a strong record here at Clonmel and will have high hopes for High Sparrow.

Mary Frances

Only made three outings last season. Didn’t reappear until January. Placed second on return but not competitive on two starts after. Finished 40 lengths behind Elwood at Cork in March. Has ability and loves soft ground. Question marks remain though.


Ended novice hurdling season with impressive handicap triumph off 126 in May 2018. Didn’t relish chasing last season and returned to hurdling on final start, beaten 20 lengths off this mark. Suffered 33 and 38-length defeats in two flat handicaps this autumn. Should be ready for return to jumping but needs to fine much more than when last seen.

Noble Endeavor

Comfortably beaten in Becher and Ultima last season. Pulled up in Grand National before the fourth last when detached. Finished second off 140 in 2016 Martin Pipe. Only jumped hurdles twice since then and well-beaten in both races. Offers little appeal at the top of the weights.

Rocky Silver

Two time winner over fences. Managed to win maiden hurdle last November carrying odds of 33/1. Suffered heavy defeats in both starts in handicap hurdles. Trailed home 40 lengths behind winner off this mark at Cork on reappearance.


Ran well over hurdles last October, finishing fourth at Galways before winning handicap rated 109. Returned to action at Galway in August but failed to win in four starts. Suffer three heavy defeats off 119 and handicapper hasn’t dropped his mark at all. Won’t enjoy this soft ground either.

Westerner Point

Highly rated chaser, who won two lucrative handicaps last season. Rated some 30 pounds lower over hurdles and should be dangerous with 10-5 on his back. Ran really poorly on reappearance over hurdles at Galway. Two mile trip was unsuitable, but didn’t jump well at all.

Westerner Point really should be competitive in this sort of race over hurdles, but that 60 length defeat on his return to action is hard to forgot. High Sparrow produced a career-best effort to win here last month and could back it up with another strong showing, but ELWOOD is the one I want to side with.

Gordon Elliott’s five-year-old has been unlucky to run into some good quality horses this term, finishing second to Quartz Dh Rheu before a decent third behind Peregrine Run and Westland Row. His runner-up finish in a three-mile handicap has been well-and-truly trumped too, with winner, Roland Pump winning again over hurdles and a big Beginners’ Chase at Fairyhouse earlier this week.

A maiden victory on Irish soil is surely just around the corner for Elwood and he looked extremely well-handicapped to me running off 130.