©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Runners and Riders

Mark your Card: your best bets for today's Grade racing

All eyes are on Thurles this afternoon so Declan Smyth picks the winners in the day’s two big races.

THIS AFTERNOON THURLES holds what is its biggest racing day of the year featuring both the Grade 2 Kinloch Brae Chase and the Grade 2 Coolmore Novice Chase. The going at present is soft to heavy and will be a test for those running.

Kinloch Brae Chase (Grade 2)

On the day when his father is honoured in the WT O’Grady Novice Chase, Edward O’Grady would love nothing better than to win the race named after one of his father’s finest horses. Tranquil Sea is his representative here but at 11 years of age, his best is probably behind him.

Gigginstown are three-handed in the race. Quito De La Roque hasn’t really sparkled this year while Rathlin has also disappointed.

Davy Russell is down to partner Roi Du Mee which suggests he’s the more fancied of the three and on current form, that appears to be the case. He beat Tranquil Sea comfortably at Tramore on New Year’s Day over 2m5f; before that at Navan he beat Colbert Station over 2m7f although he was receving 4lb from the horse who later went on to win the Paddy Power at Christmas.

Joncol looks held on his run behind Roi Du Mee at Punchestown in October. However he is dropping back in trip today and trainer Paul Nolan is hoping that his recent run over hurdles, when he was only beaten four lengths by the subsequently impressive Rule The World, will have sweetened him up. Even if he improved to his 163 rating of two years ago, it might not be good enough.

Oscar Time and Foildubh look to have too much to do and that leaves us with DAYS HOTEL. He reinforced the good impression a lot of people had at Cork in December when winning the Hilly Way Chase after a lay off of 385 days. He should show a lot of improvement from that run, will love the ground and if he handles the track, should take all the beating.

Coolmore Mares’ Novices Chase (Grade 2)

The Coolmore Mares’ Novice Chase will be an eagerly sought prize for connections of the eight runners. Apart from the €34,125 to the winner, the black type that will appear on the page of any progeny will add a few euro to the sale price.

Willie Mullins’s Tarla is likely to go off favourite. Back in December at Cork she had a mares’ Grade 3 race at her mercy when over-pitching at the last and falling. Cnoc Seoda, another of her opponents today, looked to be destined for second when she also fell.

Before that Tarla was an impressive winner of a Grade 3 at Punchestown where she beat Our Girl Salley and Avondhu Lady by eight lengths and a length respectively. The latter two reversed placings at Fairyhouse in December while another of today’s runners, Charlie’s Vic, beat Our Girl Salley by a neck at Naas in January.

A strict line through the form leaves TARLA as the winner and it’s unlikely that any other others will be good enough. For breeders a place can add a bit of value to the progeny, but Tarla should swell the coffers of the Ricci/Mullins/Walsh team.

Reproduced with permission from >>

Follow @whiteflagman on Twitter >>