Franco De Port, a strapping French-bred five-year-old, should make a successful start to his chasing career in the Killinan Beginners Chase which opens today’s Thurles card.
Representing Willie Mullins and Paul Townend, who have struck with novice chasers Energumene, Yukon Lil, and Colreevy in the last week, the 144-rated hurdler has always looked likely to excel in this new discipline. And the champion trainer has found him an ideal starting point got his new career.
A wide-margin winner of his only start in his native France, a four-year-old hurdle at Auteuil, Franco De Port has triumphed once, from four starts, since arriving in Closutton.
He outpointed the smart Cayd Boy in a novice at Gowran Park on his Irish debut before disappointing in a Grade 3 won by Soviet Pimpernel at Limerick’s Christmas meeting.
He bounced back to fill the runner-up berth behind long odds-on stable-companion Stormy Ireland in the Grade 3 Limestone Lad at Naas late last January.
Franco De Port took his chance in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham, for which he started a well-fancied 10-1 shot. But, having raced keenly, he dropped away tamely and was pulled up between the last two flights in a race won by Dame De Compagnie.
But chasing should be Franco De Port’s game. And he’s a confident choice to deliver here, in the first race run on the newly-configured chase track, with just one fence now in the home-straight.
On what promises to be another good day for Closutton, market support for Gjoumi and Gauloise ahead of the maiden hurdles would be significant.
The Mullins team bought Gjoumi following her win in a French bumper for Adrien Fouasserie. She was highly-tried on her Irish debut, in a Grade 3 juvenile event at Fairyhouse last February, where she finished fourth, beaten less than eight lengths, behind stable-companion Burning Victory who went on to prove a fortuitous winner of the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.
The Mullins-trained Gauloise is even more interesting on her Irish debut in the Irish Stallion Farms’ Mares’ Maiden Hurdle.
Carrying the Honeysuckle colours of Kenny Alexander, this four-year-old filly won a French bumper in April 2019 and looks a very interesting prospect.
But she’ll have to be smart to thwart Joseph O’Brien’s Global Equity who comes from a yard in top form.
12.25 Franco De Port (Nap)
12.55 Nearly Nama’d
1.25 Gjoumi (NB)
2.25 Capilano Bridge
2.55 Fair Minded
12.25 Eleazer Des Neiges
12.55 Fox Le Bel
1.25 Gua Du Large
1.55 Global Equity
2.25 The Cathal Don
2.55 Molly Kaye
3.25 Mystic Embarr