Thurles Preview: Never Underestimate Paddy3 min read
It’s a lesson the locals have learned at Cheltenham in recent times, and I would argue that Paddy is going under the radar once more.
14:10 Devil’s Bit Beginners Chase
Turcagua was second in a Grade 1 over hurdles last season, and he beat a Cheltenham Festival winner when landing his maiden, so ought to have no trouble getting off the mark as a chaser in this ordinary contest. A faller here in the race won by the same connections’ Pylonthepressure, it’s significant that he was the better fancied of the pair that day, and his stablemate would have gone fairly close in the National Hunt Chase if he hadn’t taken a souvenir of most of the fences home with him. If his jumping is a worry, then that is also a concern, and arguably a bigger one, for Ballela Boy, who jumped poorly on his earlyn starts over fences, and has compromised by correcting himself by going out to the right subsequently. That trait is sure to cost him ground here, and he’s easy enough to oppose on balance.
14:45 Pierce Molony Memorial Novice Chase
Great Field won this in style last year, and although the winner of the latest renewal is unlikely to produce such a spectacular performance, it looks an absolute cracker in terms of depth, with little to separate the field on form. I respect Jett given he seems to save his best for this venue, but I feel that likely outsider Castlegrace Paddy may be underestimated by the market makers. A decidedly useful hurdler, he had the classy Al Boum Photo back in third when runner-up on hurdles debut, and beat a pair of next-time out winners when landing his maiden at Gowran a year ago. He returned from an absence to make a winning chase debut at Fairyhouse in December in a race also taken by Yorkhill and Un de Sceaux in recent times. His absence since is a worry, but he’s roughly on a par with today’s rivals despite being much less exposed, and he must be afforded maximum respect, something which tissue compilers have failed to do.