Allaho defends Thurles title in Festival prep

Allaho will attempt to win the Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase at Thurles for the second year running on Sunday.

It was in this race last year connections discovered they had a potential star over the intermediate trip of two and a half miles, having attempted to stretch him out to three miles previously.

After beating his Willie Mullins-trained stablemate Elimay 12 months ago, Allaho went on to destroy the Ryanair Chase field by 12 lengths and even dropped to two miles after that at Punchestown where only another stable companion, Chacun Pour Soi, beat him.

First time out this year he won the John Durkan and while he faces only three rivals, all are classy in their own right.

Paul Townend teams up with Allaho
Paul Townend teams up with Allaho (Niall Carson/PA)

Rider Paul Townend told his Ladbrokes blog: “Allaho beat Fakir D’oudairies at Punchestown well and takes him on again. He is a course winner.

“I suppose the ground will probably be dry enough for him and shouldn’t be an inconvenience.

“He seems well since his John Durkan win and is my best chance of the weekend I would say.”

Fakir D’oudairies chased home Allaho at Cheltenham and went on to win the Melling Chase at Aintree by 11 lengths, but he was eight lengths back in fourth in the John Durkan.

“Fakir D’oudairies is our stable star over jumps and it was great to see him make a winning return to action in the Clonmel Oil Chase in November,” trainer Joseph O’Brien told Betfair.

“He was a shade disappointing in the John Durkan at Punchestown Chase last time, as he didn’t jump with his usual fluency and got outpaced from the third-last fence before sticking on well.

“His jumping was perhaps the main issue that day, so the main hope here is that he returns his more typical fluent style over a fence. This course and distance should suit him well and while Allaho sets the bar very high, Fakir D’oudairies will hopefully make him work for it.”

Notebook is stepping up in trip
Notebook is stepping up in trip (Brian Lawless/PA)

The other two runners are both owned by Gigginstown House Stud – Henry de Bromhead’s Notebook and the Gordon Elliott-trained Battleoverdoyen.

“Notebook definitely settles far better now, so that should help him get the trip,” said racing manager Eddie O’Leary.

“It was just the last day we were taking on an absolute aeroplane in Energumene and we paid the price for that.

“We had to take him on, we’d had a run and were fit and it was his first run of the season, but we paid the price for that.

“Batleoverdoyen is a Grade One winner in his own right. He was second to Envoi Allen first time out and he’s entitled to improve for that as it was his first run since another wind op.”

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