Clonmel Oil Chase (Grade 2) | 2m4f | 4yo+ | ATR
Willie Mullins has won three of the last five runnings of the Clonmel Oil Chase with Arvika Ligeonniere (2013), Champagne Fever (2014) and Alelchi Inois (2016) and the champion trainer will be bidding to maintain his fine record in the 2m4f Grade 2 with the Supreme Horse Racing Club-owned Kemboy.
The six-year-old made big strides last season, winning a Grade 3 novice chase at Limerick before landing a competitive novice handicap chase at the Punchestown festival in the spring.
He holds the highest rating in this 2m4f contest, but receives weight from all bar Rashaan, and Mullins is looking forward to getting him started.
"Kemboy is a horse who is improving all the time. It’s nice to get him out and started for the season and he should handle the ground,” Mullins said.
Last year’s winner Alpha Des Obeaux is back for more, but this time he represents Gordon Elliott, having made the transfer from Mouse Morris’s stable earlier in the summer.
A Toi Phil, who also represents Gigginstown, and the Nick Bradley Racing Club’s Doctor Phoenix complete Elliott’s trio.
Elliott said: “Alpha Des Obeaux won this race last year but he was disappointing on his first run for me so we've put a tongue-tie on him now and we'll see how he gets on.”
He added: “The race will suit A Toi Phil as it's a small field and we'll just drop him in and hunt away. Hopefully Doctor Phoenix will be able to sneak a bit of prize money.”
Seven of the past eight winners of this prestigious chase have started favourite, and no horse above 7-1 has been triumphant in the past decade, but Colin Kidd, the only other trainer to be represented, is hoping his Rashaan can thwart the powerhouses of Mullins and Elliott.
Rashaan came off second best to an Elliott-trained horse in Woods Well at Galway on his latest start, when the sedate early pace was not to his liking, and even though he has a lot to find on ratings, Kidd predicts a decent showing.
He said: “Rashaan has a lot to find on ratings but he’s in good form and he seems to like Clonmel so we’re looking forward to seeing how he gets on.”
He added: “We always thought he wanted good ground but now that he’s getting a bit older maybe he wants a bit of dig. We’ll run him tomorrow and if he runs well we’ll probably head for the Drinmore.”