Thyestes Handicap Chase – Analysis of Gowran Park’s Big Handicap

Coko Beach won last year's Ten Up Novice Chase, one of two Grade 2s on the Tuesday card.Coko Beach won last year's Ten Up Novice Chase, one of two Grade 2s on the Tuesday card.

Five Horses to Note in Thursday’s Staying Chase

The Thyestes Handicap Chase is a race with an enviable roll of honour. Arkle, Flyingbolt and Hedgehunter all feature within the winners list and we’ve taken a closer look at five contenders looking to join them in this year’s renewal on Thursday.

Favourite – Braeside

Gordon Elliott’s two wins in this race have come courtesy of novices and BRAESIDE is another from that mould.

He is a second-season novice, a type of horse that is en vogue currently with Galvin having been one last season and Run Wild Fred this. Both are favourites for races at the Cheltenham Festival.

Braeside may not be regarded quite that highly, but he ran good races on a number of occasions towards the end of 2020 and belatedly got off the mark in the Cork Grand National on his return. That was after a step up in trip, while he also ran well in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting.

That race is over three miles, the same trip he will meet at Gowran Park and his progreeive nature, coupled with the trainer he is representing, ensures he must be taken seriously.

Leading Contenders – Longhouse Poet & Eklat De Rire

Given the aforementioned Run Wild Fred has risen to headier status this season, LONGHOUSE POET has to be taken very seriously.

He was subject to significant support for this race earlier in the week and will be just his second start over a trip of three miles or above. That is despite his best novice hurdle effort proving to be his third to Latest Exhibition at the Dublin Racing Festival in 2020, while his only chase success to date came when he beat Run Wild Fred at Punchestown last season.

He was off the track for nearly a year when returning to finish seventh at Limerick before the turn of the year, but that was over a trip far short of ideal and he should be far better suited by these conditions.

Meanwhile, EKLAT DE RIRE is on a retrieval mission after blowing out in the Ladbrokes Trophy in November.

He had been supported into favouritism off the back of securing Listed honours at Wexford in October, but rapidly fell out of contention a substantial way from home. The eight-year-old will have to run off the same mark here, but though no obvious excuses were made by connections, it is very unlikely we saw his true form that day.

Other than that and an uncharacteristic unseat at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, he has won every chase in which he has completed. He has been given a Gold Cup entry and may yet make into a horse of that level.

Other Dangers – Coko Beach & Franco De Port

Last year’s winner must always be taken into consideration and COKO BEACH returns, albeit 9lb higher than he was a year ago.

Still only a seven-year-old, he proved his victory in this was no fluke by taking a Grade 2 at Navan on his next start, but his mark of 150 proved too much in the Irish Grand National, as well as on his return.

He was very disappointing in the Paddy Power Chase, but he will much prefer this softer ground. A further 2lb easing in the handicap could well see him be dangerous once again.

Having his first run in handicap company over fences will be FRANCO DE PORT, a Grade 1 winner last season for Willie Mullins.

The majority of his novice races were over 2m-2m4f, with his Grade 1 coming at nearer the minimum trip. However, he looked outpaced for the majority of his races around those trips and his trainer has recently stepped him up in distance.

In the Savills Chase at Leopardstown, Franco De Port travelled kindly enough into the race, but made a howler of an error with three fences left, knocking any remaining stamina out of his legs. He could easily be competitive at this trip off a mark of 153 though and it is interesting that the faith remains.