Owners to return to Irish racecourses from Monday

Owners are to make a welcome return to Irish racecourses on Monday following last week’s announcement by the Irish Government that up to 200 people can attend outdoor events from June 7.

Gowran Park and Listowel will open their gates to two owners per runner for what will be the first time since September that they will be allowed back on Irish racecourses.

Designated areas for owners to meet their trainers and jockeys have been established on each track, while winning owners will be permitted to enter the parade ring after a race to greet their horse.

Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said: “We have said all along that getting owners back on the racecourse has been a priority and it is great that it is happening from Bank Holiday Monday at Gowran Park and Listowel.

“Owners have stood by the industry during a very difficult period and their return on track paves the way for greater opening up of race meetings to racing fans in the coming months. Horse Racing Ireland’s Ownership team will be in contact with all owners in advance of Monday with full details.

“Obviously, the overall experience for the time being will be an outdoor one, and to ensure that everybody can stay safe, there will be a number of requirements for owners, including registration in advance and arrival through the Health Screening Check-In Area.”

Mighty Blue dominates Vintage Tipple Stakes

Mighty Blue produced a dominant display to land the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Vintage Tipple Stakes at Gowran Park.

Joseph O’Brien’s dual-purpose mare finished third at the Cheltenham Festival on her penultimate start, but was slightly disappointing when favourite to make a winning return to the Flat in last month’s Noblesse Stakes at Cork.

However, stepping back up in distance for this Listed assignment, Mighty Blue travelled strongly on the heels of the leader before moving to the front two furlongs from the finish.

From that point the 6-1 shot never looked in any real danger of being caught – really asserting in the closing stages to seal a seven-and-a-half-length victory under Dylan Browne McMonagle.

Outsider Lismore held on for second, just ahead of Yaxeni in third and Princess Zoe in fourth.

O’Brien’s assistant Brendan Powell said: “It was a good performance. She’s a good, tough filly.

“She’s been on the go all year – she ran well at Cheltenham and ran a nice race at Cork, where the ground was probably a bit quick for her.

“Dylan said she travelled away, got a lovely lead – and the further she went the better she won.”

The testing conditions played to the winner’s strengths, and Powell added: “She has plenty of size to her and she’s still a novice next year over hurdles, which is amazing really when you think of it.

“I think the ground is the key to her – she loves soft ground.

“I’d say Joseph will give her a holiday when she needs it, but she’s not showing any signs of it at the moment.”

Too Soon To Panic was a second authoritative Listed winner on the card, in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Victor McCalmont Memorial Stakes for trainer Fozzy Stack and jockey Chris Hayes.

The four-year-old, like Mighty Blue well beaten in the Noblesse Stakes last time, had no trouble with this drop back to nine and a half furlongs – winning by two and three-quarter lengths at 12-1.

Hayes had her in front early, soon settled in behind and then took over again from favourite French Fusion two furlongs out before scooting clear – with Empress Josephine eventually keeping on best of the rest to take the runner-up spot.

The winning jockey said: “She deserved that. That’s a serious piece of training and placing, I think.

“They kept her in training this season with the hope of getting black-type and to try and find a race like that.

“She’s a valuable asset now and has her job done, so I don’t know what Fozzy will want to do. It was a brave call, and good placing.”

Bachasson bags Red Mills Chase glory at Gowran

Bachasson made it four from four for the season with victory in the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park.

The Willie Mullins-trained grey has mixed disciplines to great effect this season – previously landing the Clonmel Oil Chase, a conditions hurdle at Punchestown and the Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas.

Faced with just three rivals on his return to the larger obstacles for a rescheduled running of this Grade Two contest, Paul Townend’s mount tracked Spyglass Hill for much of the two-and-a-half-mile journey before taking over the lead before the home turn.

Castlegrace Paddy briefly looked a threat, but 4-11 favourite Bachasson sauntered clear in effortless fashion and passed the post with 16 lengths in hand.

Mullins said: “He’s just an extraordinary horse. He’s a real advertisement for what we would call a handy horse. It just shows that they come in all shapes and sizes. He was bought as a bumper/hurdle horse, but he has such scope and is so brave.

“Paul said he was absolutely loving it today when he got upsides Rachael (Blackmore, on Spyglass Hill) and he just took off. He’s in love with the game, even though he’s done a lot of racing.

“I’d imagine we’ll look for a similar type of contest, maybe the Webster Cup at Navan. He can go back over hurdles if conditions are right.

“He’s a great horse for the O’Connells (owners) to have on the back of Un De Sceaux.”

Coko Beach triumphs in Thyestes test

Coko Beach led home a one-two for Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud in the Goffs Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park.

Elliott and Gigginstown had previously teamed up to win the prestigious handicap with Monbeg Notorious in 2018 and were well represented once more, with Coko Beach one of four runners for the combination, while Gigginstown had seven representatives overall.

Fitted with blinkers for the first time, Coko Beach travelled strongly throughout the three-mile-one-furlong contest in the hands of Jack Kennedy and hit the front early in the home straight.

From that point the 8-1 shot never looked in serious danger of being caught and safely negotiated the remaining obstacles to seal a four-length verdict, with stable companion Run Wild Fred best of the rest in second.

Elliott’s great rival Willie Mullins saddled the third, fourth and fifth in Class Conti, Saturnas and Acapella Bourgeois respectively.

Kennedy, winning the race for a second time after steering Monbeg Notorious home in front three years ago, said of Coko Beach: “He’s been struggling to win a beginners’ chase.

“Gordon asked me the other morning what I’d like to ride in it and I was thinking Farclas, but he didn’t show up here. Gordon fancied this lad and I went with what he said and thank God he was right.

“I got left at the start, but he winged the first and was able to travel well enough to get me into a position. I was handy the whole way and on that ground you are not going to get too many coming from behind.

“The blinkers sharpened him up an awful lot and he travelled a lot better than he has been.

“It’s a big race and one of the biggest handicaps of the year, so it’s great to win it.”

Coko Beach’s odds for the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival were widely slashed, and Elliott’s assistant Ian ‘Busty’ Amond confirmed that contest as a likely target.

He said: “Gordon was sweet enough on him and Jack picked him. The blinkers obviously did the trick – he jumped great and travelled great and he was the winner from a long way out.

“I’d imagine he will be on the team for Cheltenham after that and I think the National Hunt Chase is the one Gordon has in mind. He’ll have a few easy days after this and we might have a look at the Irish National as well.

“Sean (Flanagan) was delighted with Run Wild Fred. He was never going to get to your man in front, but he kept at it well and there should be a big day in him as well.”

Sams Profile grabs Galmoy glory

Sams Profile successfully reverted to the smaller obstacles with a hard-fought victory in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park.

The Mouse Morris-trained seven-year-old was narrowly beaten in a Grade One novice hurdle at the Punchestown Festival two years ago, but was not seen again until falling on his chasing bow at Thurles in November.

He ran with plenty of credit when third behind behind the exciting Monkfish at Fairyhouse nine days later – but feeling it was getting too late in the season to continue over fences, Morris decided to switch his charge back to hurdles for this Grade Two contest.

Given a patient ride by Phillip Enright, Sams Profile began to make significant inroads on the leaders from the home turn and held a narrow lead approaching the final flight.

A messy leap did him no favours, but Enright’s mount dug deep in a slow motion finish to hold off the rallying Diol Ker by half a length.

Paddy Power cut the winner to 16-1 from 66-1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

Morris, who won the Galmoy Hurdle with his former Gold Cup hero War Of Attrition in 2010, said of Sams Profile: “He hasn’t been easy and fractured ribs at Thurles from the horrible fall he got and he ran with it afterwards.

Mouse Morris was delighted with the performance of Sams Profile
Mouse Morris was delighted with the performance of Sams Profile (PA)

“He bled when he got home after his Fairyhouse run and it was the vets who found it. He bruised his lungs and we gave him box rest.

“He is as tough as old boots and it was just one of those things in Thurles, but it got too late in the year (to continue novice chasing).

“He had a couple of good runs, but isn’t the luckiest horse in the world. The Stayers’ Hurdle will be pencilled in now.”

The trainer was keen to praise Enright, adding: “Being quite frank with you, I thought maybe he was a bit far back at the top of the hill, but you have to take it off to him – he is a cool dude.

“He was dead right and I was wrong.”

Acapella Bourgeois out to give connections back-to-back Thyestes victories

Acapella Bourgeois bids to provide his owners with back-to-back victories in the Goffs Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park on Thursday.

The Willie Mullins-trained 11-year-old carries the colours of the Slaneyville Syndicate, who landed the prestigious handicap 12 months ago with the now-retired Total Recall.

Acapella Bourgeois could finish only sixth when well-fancied for last year’s renewal, since when he has won the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse and finished second to his Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning stablemate Al Boum Photo at Tramore on New Year’s Day, just as he did last season.

The veteran must concede weight all round under champion jockey Paul Townend, who has sided with him over four of his stable companions.

Lar Byrne, who is part of the Slaneyville Syndicate along with members of his family, has enjoyed plenty of success as an owner, most notably with the tough-as-teak dual Champion Hurdle winner Hardy Eustace.

He said: “We’re looking forward to Thursday. It’s a shame we won’t be able to be there, but we’ll all be watching on from home.

“Acapella had a very good run in Tramore on New Year’s Day – finishing second to Al Boum Photo again. We were very happy with the run.

“He’s carrying top-weight, but he appears to be in very good form. He’s ticking the boxes, but it’s a big ask.

“He’s getting on in years, but we said the same about Total Recall last year and he went and won it as an an 11-year-old.

“It’s going to be tough, but he’s going into the race healthy and well and we’re hoping for the best.”

Mullins, who has saddled four of the last seven winners of the biggest race of the season at his local track, is also represented by Brahma Bull, Cabaret Queen, last year’s runner-up Class Conti and Saturnas.

Willie Mullins has a strong hand in the Thyestes Chase
Willie Mullins has a strong hand in the Thyestes Chase (Simon Cooper/PA)

Gordon Elliott declared six runners, with Alpha Des Obeaux, Roaring Bull, Dounikos, Coko Beach and Run Wild Fred joined by second reserve Aforementioned.

Other contenders include Henry de Bromhead’s Spyglass Hill and the Ted Walsh-trained Any Second Now.

The main supporting race is the Grade Two John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle, in which Mullins runs Bacardys, Burrows Saint, Scarpeta and Great White Shark. The latter is particularly interesting on her first competitive start since winning the Cesarewitch at Newmarket.

Mouse Morris is keeping his fingers crossed for a bold showing from Sams Profile, who reverts to hurdling following a couple of spins over fences since returning from a lengthy absence.

Sams Profile (right) chases home Reserve Tank at Punchestown
Sams Profile (right) chases home Reserve Tank at Punchestown (PA)

The seven-year-old was narrowly beaten in a Grade One novice hurdle at the 2019 Punchestown Festival, but was not seen again until falling on his chasing bow at Thurles in November.

He ran with plenty of credit when third behind behind the exciting Monkfish at Fairyhouse nine days later, after which he was found to be suffering from a minor injury.

Morris said: “It’s got too late in the season to be trying to win a beginners’ chase, so we thought we’d switch him back to hurdles.

“He ran a very good race at Fairyhouse, considering he had a fractured rib. He’d obviously picked that up in the fall at Thurles and we didn’t find it until after he ran the last day.

“We’ll see how we go on Thursday.”

Thyestes Chase Trends

Staged at Gowran Park racecourse, in Ireland, the Thyestes Chase is run over a distance of 3m, and is often contested by horses that go onto run in the Grand National later in the season. That said, we’ve not seen any winners of this race go onto win the Aintree race that same season, but Hedgehunter (2004) and Numbersixvalverde (2005) did go onto glory in the Aintree marathon later in their careers.

In recent years, the Willie Mullins yard have won the Thyestes Chase five times in the last 9 runnings, and eight times in all – he looks to have another strong hand this year too. He also won it in 2020 with Total Recall.

Here at GEEGEEZ we look back at recent winners and highlights the key stats to take into the 2021 running – this year staged on Thursday 28th January.



Recent Thyestes Chase Winners

2020 – TOTAL RECALL (16/1)
2019 – INVITATION ONLY (4/1 fav)
2018 - MONBEG NOTORIOUS (7/2 fav)
2017 – CHAMPAGNE WEST (7/1)
2016 – MY MURPHY (16/1)
2015 – DJAKADAM (9/2)
2014 – ON HIS OWN (12/1)
2013 – JADANLI (25/1)
2012 – ON HIS OWN (10/1)
2011 – SIEGEMASTER (16/1)
2010 – WHINSTONE BOY (5/1)
2009 – PREISTS LEAP (20/1)
2008 – PREISTS LEAP (20/1)
2007 – HOMER WELLS (16/1)
2006 – DUN DOIRE (9/4 fav)
2004 – HEDGEHUNTER (10/3 fav)
2003 – BE MY BELLE (4/1)


Thyestes Chase Betting Trends

18/18 – Won by an Irish-based stable
17/18 – Irish bred
17/18 – Had won between 1-3 times over fences (rules) before
16/18 – Had raced within the last 4 weeks
14/18 – Had won over at least 3m (fences) before
13/18 – Aged 9 or younger
13/18 – Placed favourites
11/18 – Carried 10-7 or less
10/18 – Finished unplaced last time out
9/18 – Had run at Gowran Park over fences before
9/18 – Aged 7 or 8 years-old
9/18 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
9/18 – Returned a double-figure price in the betting
7/18 – Raced at Leopardstown last time out
7/18 – Trained by Willie Mullins (won the race 8 times in all)
4/18 – Went onto run in that season’s Grand National (all failed to finish)
4/18 – Winning favourites
3/18 – Won last time out
2/18 – Ridden by Phillip Enright
2/18 – Ridden by David Casey
2/18 – Won by a previous winner of the race
The average winning SP in the last 18 runnings is 11/1













Ferny Hollow gets hurdling career off to perfect start

Champion Bumper winner Ferny Hollow made a successful start to his career over hurdles with victory at Gowran Park.

Making his first appearance since sweeping through to beat stablemate Appreciate It at the Cheltenham Festival in March, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned five-year-old was unsurprisingly cramped odds for the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle at 1-3.

Ridden by Paul Townend, Ferny Hollow tracked the pacesetting Bob Olinger for much of the two-mile contest and the promising pair were always clear of their rivals.

Bob Olinger, an impressive winner of a point-to-point and a bumper, gave the market leader a run for his money from the home turn, but in the end Ferny Hollow displayed a superior turn of foot on the run-in to prevail by a length – with much to like about both the winner and second.

Mullins said: “It was a nice performance. Two good horses came up the straight there, and hopefully we’ll hear more about both of them.

“He’ll improve from that run, and we’ll look forward to Christmas.”

Paddy Power trimmed Ferny Hollow to 8-1 from 10-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at next year’s Cheltenham Festival.

Mullins and Townend had earlier successfully combined with French recruit Youmdor, who was a different class to the opposition in the Thanks To All Our Sponsors In 2020 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle.

A dual winner on the Flat for Freddy Head, the Youmzain gelding made a smooth transition to the jumping game with a 16-length triumph.

“He’s a smart horse and handled the ground very well for a three-year-old. He got underneath a few hurdles early on, but the last couple were his best jumps,” said Townend.

“He’s exciting going forward, and it’s nice to get these colours (of the McNeill Family) off to a winning start.”

The Mullins-Townend axis was narrowly denied in the Download The BoyleSports App Novice Hurdle, with 10-11 favourite Galopin Des Champs mowed down late by Arthur Moore’s Sea Ducor (8-1), ridden by Donagh Meyler.

The champion trainer and jockey did, however, go on to complete four-timers, with Annamix (5-6 favourite) and Energumene (8-13 favourite) both registering emphatic wins over fences.

Annamix, who was ante-post favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in his younger days, is now two from two over the larger obstacles.

Mullins said: “I think this fellow has improved with age and I don’t mind going up in trip with him either.

“He jumped well, so hopefully he can improve for the rest of the season.”

Of Energumene, he added: “He loves chasing, and Paul was very taken with him, which has to be a good sign. We’ll probably find something for him around Christmas.”