As the racing calendar draws closer to the Cheltenham Festival in March, we are currently in the period of the jump racing season where racing fans will be paying close attention to the other meetings in the build-up to the greatest show on turf.
On Thursday afternoon there are a few horses of interest in action at Gowran Park which will attract a lot of attention from racegoers who are trying to get an idea of how they are shaping up for the Festival, as well as the Grand National at Aintree.
Here we take a look at some of the major players to watch out for in Ireland this afternoon.
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Teahupoo - John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle (14:15) - 2/5 with Betfred*
Teahupoo is one of the star horses in Irish trainer Gordon Elliott’s stable and there is a lot of hype for the six-year-old to secure his first Cheltenham Festival winner in the Stayers’ Hurdle - and for good reason. In his last entry, the gelding beat the likes of Honeysuckle and Klassical Dream to win the Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in early December which has started to convince a lot of people that he has what it takes to claim his first triumph at Cheltenham.
With doubts over reigning champion Flooring Porter and Klassical Dream competing in the Stayers’ Hurdle still lingering, a strong run this afternoon could put Teahupoo in great shape for seven weeks’ time. He will face tough competition from Summerville Boy this afternoon, trained by Henry de Bromhead and ridden by Rachael Blackmore, who we know have a pedigree as a winning combination.
Escaria Ten - Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase (14:50) - 7/1 with Betfred*
Another Elliott-trained horse to keep an eye on today is Escaria Ten, a horse who is gearing up for another shot in the Grand National after finishing ninth in his first entry in the Aintree spectacle last year. He gave a good showing in the Grand National a year ago and the focus is for him to give it another shot in April and his run at Gowran Park will give a good indication as to where he is in his progress.
He returns to the same race after finishing a whopping 24 lengths behind winner Longhouse Poet a year ago. He will face competition against stablemate Pencilfulloflead, Carefully Selected and Gabbys Cross. It will be interesting to see what his stamina is like in this one and how well he can stay.
Sir Gerhard - Daly Farrell Chartered Accountants Beginners Chase (15:25) - 1/9 with Betfred*
Willie Mullins’ prized asset Sir Gerhard will be making his long-awaited chase debut at Gowran Park this afternoon. The dual Cheltenham Festival winner is back after suffering a setback before Christmas which left his trainer doubting his chances of featuring at Cheltenham in March. He is of course starting his first chase later than planned but he is still priced at short odds to make it a debut worth waiting for.
It will be interesting to see how Sir Gerhard fares in this one as it will give Mullins a clearer idea of what race to declare him for at Cheltenham if all goes smoothly. Sir Gerhard is currently entered in both the Unibet Champion Hurdle and Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle, and has also been put forward for the Sporting Life Arkle, Brown Advisory and Turners Novices' Chases. Due to Mullins’ vast experience, whatever Sir Gerhard shows him later today he will know exactly which race would be best for his chances at Cheltenham.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change