The gelding showed much improved form when holding off the late thrust of As De Pique in a similar event at Punchestown, back in May. He was then left off for more than five months until yesterday afternoon, when he showed even better form when.
Although he made a couple of mistakes along the way, including when being challenged by favourite Tomcoole Lad at the final fence, he picked up really well in the closing stages to win with plenty to spare.
Under a penalty and with quick ground to suit once more, he should take a world of beating in a race in which most of his rivals look exposed.
The bumper could develop into a match between Knockraha Boss and Ball D’Arc, with preference for the former. Trained by Adrian Maguire, he picked up plenty of experience in point to points, winning once, prior to making a promising bumper debut at Cork recently.
On that occasion he was outpaced momentarily before they turned for home, but stayed on well to finish second behind the promising Exactoris. Any step forward from that would make him hard to beat.
Ball D’Arc also won a point to point, but didn’t show an awful lot in two outings in bumpers last season. However, on the first occasion he was pitched in pretty deep, for a listed bumper, and finished a well-beaten fifth behind Charbel, who has since joined Kim Bailey and won a maiden hurdle in Britain.
He made no impression in a hot bumper won by Petit Mouchoir at Punchestown on his last start, but has since joined the Gordon Elliott stable, which continues to fire on all cylinders. Timmone is the only newcomer in the race and, as a half-brother to winners Don Vincenzo and Pumbaa, is worth noting in the market.
Although Thats Nice has to concede lumps of weight to his rivals, the Michael Hourigan-trained six-year-old is the one to beat in the Thurles.ie Maiden Hurdle. He won his bumper at the seventh time of asking, and has had three runs over hurdles, including last time out when he finished a decent fourth behind Grecian Tiger.
Back on a much quicker surface today and with Barry Geraghty booked, he can prove too strong for his rivals, headed by point winner South Circle, who is in receipt of 22lbs.
The opening race is an interesting beginners’ chase, in which preference is for chasing debutant Venitien De Mai.
From the stable of Jim Dreaper, whose hurdlers inevitably improve for the introduction of a fence, the selection was somewhat frustrating over hurdles but prior to that was unbeaten in point to points, and could yet build on that promise. He is preferred to Salsa Sensation.