Owner Philip Reynolds is keeping his fingers crossed Presenting Percy can make race fitness count in a fascinating renewal of the boomerang.ie Chase at Thurles.
Just five runners are set to go to post for the two-mile-six-furlong Listed contest, but the quintet includes three of top 10 highest-rated chasers in Ireland in Presenting Percy, Kemboy and Monalee – the winners of five Grade One races between them.
Presenting Percy was brilliant in beating Monalee in the 2018 RSA Chase, but has never quite rediscovered that form since – last season finishing behind Monalee and Kemboy when fifth in the Savills Chase and a place behind Kemboy again when third in the Irish Gold Cup.
The eight-year-old fell two fences from home when staying on for pressure in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, a race in which Monalee ran a career-best to finish fourth with Kemboy in seventh.
While Monalee and Kemboy have both been off the track since the blue riband in the Cotswolds eight months ago, Presenting Percy made a promising debut for Gordon Elliott when fourth in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal almost three weeks ago.
Reynolds said: “It will be a tidy little race, all right – it’s not often you get a Grade One at a small track in the middle of the week!
“He’s had a run, which won’t hold him back anyway. He gave his fences a bit of air in Down Royal, so another bit of practice probably won’t be any harm to him.
“I’d just like to see him finish off his race a bit better. I know Gordon and Denis (O’Regan) felt he blew up in Down Royal, but I still have those two races in Leopardstown last season (Savills Chase and Irish Gold Cup) in the back of my mind.
“We don’t know what would have happened at Cheltenham, but is there any reason to suspect he would have finished out better than he did twice in Leopardstown and the other day in Down Royal?
“I think it will be plenty testing in Thurles, so I don’t think the trip will be an excuse. The handicapper reckons he’ll come third and maybe that’s as good as he’ll finish.
“Personally, I would just like to see him finish his race out a little better.”
Kemboy bids to provide Willie Mullins with a fifth victory in the last six renewals following the previous triumphs of Sir Des Champs (2015), Champagne Fever (2016), Bachasson (2017) and Footpad (2019).
The the eight-year-old won three Grade Ones two seasons ago, including a defeat of his dual Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning stablemate Al Boum Photo in an epic Punchestown Gold Cup that will forever be remembered as Ruby Walsh’s swansong.
However, he returns with something to prove after failing to add to his tally in three starts last term.
Henry de Bromhead has already identified the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day as a likely target for Monalee ahead of his seasonal reappearance.
Speaking about plans for his string last week, De Bromhead said: “He will go to Thurles and start in the Listed chase there, then we were thinking we might go to the King George with him and see how we get on there.
“Then obviously we will aim him towards the Gold Cup.”
Joseph O’Brien saddles Grade Two-winning chaser Darasso, who was last seen finishing down the field in the Champion Hurdle, while the small but select field is completed by the Mouse Morris-trained Beyond The Law.