OUR racing man Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) has found three to follow in Thursday's intriguing card from Thurles.
Thurles | Thursday 14:15 | At The Races
Thurles have a Grade 3 chase over two-and-a-half miles here and it's a real midweek treat for us. A field of just six line-up but four high-class chasers are amongst them and this is a very good renewal of the Kinloch Brae Chase.
Smashing (15/2 Betfair) is a very good chaser but hasn't been seen to his best on his two starts so far this season.
He needs heavy ground and has also been running over trips beyond his stamina threshold so this should be much more appropriate. He'll appreciate the softer ground and should be allowed to dominate from the front but I think he will set the race up rather than win it.
The Potts have a second runner in the form of Sizing John (7/2 Boylesports) and he'll be glad to see there is no Douvan here. He's a very good chaser over two miles and is perhaps underrated due to Douvan’s dominance.
However, he doesn't strike me as crying out for extra distance. On his one start over this trip he was disappointing at Aintree and against established staying chasers he is passed over too.
Sub Lieutenant (6/4 Boylesports) was a progressive novice chaser last season, despite taking six starts to break over his duck he ended up placed in a Grade 1. This year he's continued that progression and was third to Djakadam in the John Durkan last time out.
He is a worthy favourite here and is the one to beat, but he is taking on another top-class rival and this will take some winning.
Black Hercules (3/1 BetVictor) represents Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh and I suspect he will be a far different horse than the one we seen earlier in the season. Unbeaten when completing last season he won the JLT Novice Chase at the Festival and is a top-class chaser.
He needed the outing in the John Durkan and was never travelling over two miles last time. The softer ground and the longer trip will see him to better effect here and at the prices he is the one I will be backing.
Thurles | Thursday 14:50 | At The Races
A Grade 3 Mares Novice Chase and the favourite Westerner Lady (1/1 Boylesports) looks to add to her already impressive strike rate here. However, she is very short in the betting and I'm happy to oppose her here with an each-way bet on a rival.
Westerner Lady has won seven of her last eight starts and her only defeat came against the high-class Alpha Des Obeaux. Last time out she just got the better of Thanks For Tea showing a great attitude late on. She brings the best form in to the race but at odds-on, I'm happy to take a chance on another.
Daisy's Gift (7/1 Ladbrokes) is the stables second string but she has a real chance in this. She has scope for further improvement over fences with only four starts as a chaser however she has fallen twice and in this higher grade I'd be concerned over her jumping. She's certainly a danger but is too much of a risk.
The one I do like here is the second favourite Colla Pier (11/2 BetVictor). She is yet to win over fences but she's only had three starts and has been already been placed twice in graded races. She's won on soft before so the ground won't hold any fears and she should be competitive here.
A hardy sort, she takes her racing well and I will be backing her each-way.
Thurles | Thursday 16:00 | At The Races
What a little race. It's not often a five-runner hunter chase grabs my attention but this is a very interesting race with four high-class veterans lining-up – whoever wins this will be expected to challenge for the big end of season hunters chases.
Salsify (7/1 Boylesports) is a former dual winner of the Foxhunters Chase at Cheltenham and has been a credit to connections down the years. He’s not quite the force he once was but he's still a danger at this level. It's his first start for nine months and I'll be watching him rather than backing him.
On His Own (9/4 Bet365) is a multiple graded chase winner and with a bit more luck would be a former Gold Cup winner. He lined up in the Cheltenham showpiece and the Grand National last season and will appreciate this company.
He won a hunters chase last time and with confidence restored he should run his race here.
Foxrock (11/10 Ladbrokes) was a high quality chaser who was starting to struggle last season and has had his attentions swapped to the hunters chase scene. He won at the second time of asking and looks like he will take high order in the division.
He's only nine years-old and he's a lot younger than his main rivals here. I think he will be very hard to beat.