Allaho made light work of the Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase at Thurles with a straightforward success under Paul Townend. The 4-11 favourite for the Grade Two contest after his John Durkan Memorial win in December, Willie Mullins' gelding demonstrated his class when crossing the line 12-lengths ahead of Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies. Already at the head of the market for the defence of his Ryanair Chase title at the Cheltenham Festival, the victory strengthened that position and the eight-year-old is now generally priced at 5-4 for that event.
Willie Mullins said "It took a good while for him to get warmed up and he was sticky over the first few fences, where I thought he might have needed some company," "He didn’t jump really well until the fourth or fifth fence, but flew the last and Paul said he was flying at the finish". The only Antepost bet I have had for Cheltenham 2022 is Allaho at 9/2. I was backing him between Cheltenham 2021 and Punchestown 2021 when all this two mile chat was knocking around. I backed him Allaho again after Punchestown, hopefully, Allaho makes it to the race now. It will make for a fun Thursday for me in Cheltenham. I am delighted Allaho ran here as he has a poor record fresh he should be spot on for Cheltenham now.
It was Gowran for Goffs Thyestes Chase. Racecourse manager Eddie Scally summed it up, "The crowd was just over 8,500. There was a great buzz around the place and a fantastic atmosphere. "People just need it so much and it’s a bit of a perfect storm with the weather being so good as well."
Klassical Dream failed to fire as Royal Kahala ran out a convincing winner of the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park. The Willie Mullins-trained Klassical Dream was sent off the 1-3 favourite following his victory in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown and all appeared to be going to plan as Paul Townend let his mount assume the lead after jumping the first flight. He appeared to be moving nicely in front as one by one all but a handful of opponents dropped out of contention in the extended three-mile contest, leaving just four in contention turning for home. Klassical Dream swung wide on the bend and jumping the penultimate flight the distress signals were out as Townend's mount found little for pressure and started to drop away, leaving Home By The Lee in front.
Royal Kahala (9-2) was really starting to get going for Kevin Sexton on the outside of Klassical Dream though, making swift progress to grab the initiative approaching the last. A rapid leap at the final flight sealed victory and Peter Fahey's charge just had to be kept up to her work to see off 80-1 chance Home By The Lee by a length and three-quarters, with Ashdale Bob a further eight lengths back in third and Klassical Dream only fourth. I wrote in a blog after the Christmas race I was not sure about Klassical Dream, however, this was a baffling performance. Royal Kahala would have her chance in the Mares Hurdle, however soft ground looks important. I really do not know if you can trust this form at all.
The Goffs Thyestes Chase went Longhouse Poet could tread a familiar path for Martin Brassil after gaining the trainer a first Goffs Thyestes Chase success since Numbersixvalverde in 2005. The gelding was in fact Brassil's first runner in the race since then and started at 9-1 under Darragh O’Keeffe at Gowran Park. Travelling prominently throughout the three-mile one-furlong contest, he jumped the penultimate fence shoulder to shoulder with Willie Mullins’ well-fancied Franco De Port (15-2). Over the last Longhouse Poet took a narrow lead and stayed on powerfully to hold off his rival and secure a three-quarter-length success with Mister Fogpatches (11-1) a further four and a half lengths back in third. The season after Numbersixvalverde's triumph the trainer aimed for the Grand National and did not miss, landing the Aintree spectacular as he got the better of Hedgehunter by six lengths.
A very interesting (Thyestes Chase) when I watched it back. I actually thought one of my selections Ontheropes ran a very strange race. Following a bad mistake, he stayed on really well for fifth. He could well be a National Hunt chase type for the Cheltenham Festival. With some top handicap experience in the bank and a slower pace, he may well be a player at 16/1. Granted he will need to jump better and cut out the tendency to make a serious blunder. A rating of 151 now is the right bracket for this race which horses rated 150 or higher have a great record.
Six Feet Apart revived memories of a former star of the Flat when leading home a one-two-three for Ireland in the Sky Bet Fillies' Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster. The Joseph O’Brien-trained four-year-old just held the persistent challenge of Ross O’Sullivan’s Sea Sessions, with White Pepper, from Gavin Cromwell’s stable, completing the clean sweep in the Listed contest. Six Feet Apart is owned by Peter Savill, whose colours were famously carried to success by Celtic Swing on this course in the Racing Post Trophy in 1994.