It’s the highlight of Thurles’ year on Thursday – the day two Graded races come to the Tipperary town.
Just five line up for the Grade 2 Kinloch Brae Chase, but it’s a quality field.
Last year’s winner of this race is bidding for more success after his tremendous victory in the Guinness Gold Cup at Punchestown last May. He wasn’t firing on all cylinders on his seasonal bow at Leopardstown in the Lexus Chase (finished 6th) but is sure to come on from that blow out.
The Willie Mullins yard is in terrific form of late, and his Apt Approach, under Ruby Walsh, is sure to go off favourite. The nine-year-old is bidding for a hat-trick following success here over three miles in November and then beat Tranquil Sea over two miles and five furlongs at Tramore on New Year’s Day. The trip, track and ground should all suit this well-regarded chesnut, and he holds an entry in the GRade A handicap chase at Leopardstown at the end of the month, as well as the Ryanair Chase and the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March.
Roberto goldback has lost his way recently, his only victory in the last two years coming on good ground at Cork last April. However, he did run reasonably well behind Synchronised in the Lexus last month and if improvement is forthcoming, he’ll give Apt Approach something to think about.
Arabella Boy is the outsider of the quintet but even he has good form beside his name, having landed a beginners’ chase at Fairhouse 11 months in gutsy fashion. He was in terrific form throughout 2010 and for the early part of 2011, regularly placing over distances of two miles to two and three quarters of a mile. The two and a half-mile trip on Thursday should pose no problems, and he should be able to handle the soft track. However, on ratings, he is up against it competing with some classy individuals.
Follow The Plan has a good shout on his drop back in trip under Tom Doyle. The Fonze completes the field, though he’ll struggle to cope with the conditions.
RECOMMENDATION: Apt Approach is the one to side with. Grab any odds-against you can find.
What do you think of the race? Who will win it?