Can Elliott reign in Thyestes?
Ian Ogg looks ahead to Thursday's Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase and a potentially informative day at Gowran Park.
Ruby Walsh and Djakadam return after winning the Thyestes
There's a midweek treat in Ireland with Thursday's Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase card at Gowran Park.
The famous race, run over three miles and a furlong, has been won by the legendary Arkle as well as Grand National winners Hedgehunter and Numbersixvalverde and more recently saw Djakadam announce himself on the big stage at the tender age of six.
He is one of six winners for Willie Mullins since the turn of the century with dual scorer On His Own failing by only a short-head to complete the Thyestes / Cheltenham Gold Cup double in 2014.
The race has so far escaped Mullins' trainer's title rival Gordon Elliott but the County Meath based handler saddled four runners last year which yielded second and third places for Mala Beach and Ucello Conti who could return for another crack.
Owners Gigginstown House Stud enjoyed a fine Sunday at Leopardstown and they are likely to be well represented in a race they haven't landed since Siegemaster prevailed in 2011.
There's no surprise that the current favourite hails from Mullins' yard but it will be a major surprise if The Crafty Butcher can go on to compete in the Gold Cup. The 10-year-old is on his fourth yard and has already had 38 career starts but his latest second at Leopardstown over Christmas was arguably a career best and he's only 7lbs higher.
It might have been hoped that Wounded Warrior would develop into a Gold Cup horse following his third placed finish in the 2015 RSA Chase and second at Punchestown but he's struggled to recapture his best form since a spell on the sidelines and was last seen tailing off in the Lexus Chase.
He's one of 10 possibles for Gigginstown and a stablemate of their shortest priced runner, Noel Meade's Measureofmydreams who finished third in last season's National Hunt Chase for Mullins but who hasn't been sighted since finishing down the field at Sandown in April.
Meade has another leading contender in last season's beaten Irish Grand National favourite Bonny Kate but he is another trainer seeking his first victory in the race.
Tony Martin won it with Dun Doire in 2007 and he could saddle Gallant Oscar who caught the eye on his reappearance over hurdles before failing to fire behind The Crafty Butcher over Christmas.
Gallant Oscar is owned by JP McManus who is also responsible for one of the market leaders in Rogue Trader who was a staying on fifth in the same contest last time and who should still have his best days ahead of him after just eight chase starts.
There may not be too many Cheltenham Festival pointers from the Thyestes but there are almost certain to be some from the remainder of the card. The closing bumper may be overlooked by many but the last three winners have been sent off at 6/1, 10/1 and 13/2 in the Champion Bumper at Prestbury Park.
Black Hercules, trainer by Mullins and owned by Graham Wylie, fared best in finishing fourth and the pair could be represented on Thursday by impressive Leopardstown winner Ballyward who is currently 12/1 second favourite for Cheltenham with Sky Bet behind stablemate Getabird who is also entered.
The latter is owned by Rich Ricci whose powerful team could also be represented in a deep looking beginners chase but only victory will do if his Vroum Vroum Mag lines up in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle, a race won last year by Stayers Hurdle second Alpha Des Obeaux.
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