Venitien de Mai, a long way removed from being the fastest horse in training, is fancied to grind it out and land the INH Stallion Owners’ EBF Maiden Hurdle at Thurles this afternoon.
The two miles and six furlongs plus will take a lot of getting and the one-paced selection seems well equipped to deliver. Successful four times in the point-to-point fields, Jim Dreaper’s charge made his racecourse debut at Clonmel in early December, finishing six lengths second behind Jimmy Two Times.
He then went off a warm order on this track 24 days ago, but was run over by Willie Mullins’ Roi Des Francs, going under by five and a half lengths.
The fact that Roi Des Francs was conceding 11lbs is obviously disconcerting, but Mullins does seem to rate that winner and time may well reveal that Venitien de Mai was simply outclassed by a smart horse on the day.
Our Katie should prove hard to beat in the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Mares Beginners Chase. She proved no match for another Willie Mullins inmate, Vroum Vroum Mag, when beaten a flattering five lengths into second at Cork.
Vroum Vroum Mag, however, already shapes as a bit special and Our Katie faces nothing approaching that calibre now.
Mullins’ Listen Dear, second in her only outing in a point-to-point, gets the vote in the Bumper. The market is likely to be the best guide to the five-year-old’s prospects, in a contest in which all six of her rivals are clearly vulnerable.
Drumlee could prove a popular winner for Charlie Swan in the Irish Stallion Farms’ Novice Chase. The two and a half miles seemed to stretch him when 13 lengths runner-up behind Urano at Cork last time and dropping down in trip should work in his favour.
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