Kerry Group Chase | 2m4f | 5yo+ | RTV
A small, but select, line-up for this intriguing conditions chase and it contains a pair of Grade 1 winners. It is a fitting feature for the opening day of the Listowel Harvest festival.
The enthusiastic Ornua won the Maghull Novices' Chase at Aintree last year, while The Storyteller won that infamous novice chase at Punchestown when two-time Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo dived out through the rail at the last.
The Storyteller won the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate in 2018 and almost won again at the Cheltenham Festival in March, but was just touched off by Sire Du Berlais in the Pertemps Final.
Gordon Elliott seems to think The Storyteller is as good as ever at the age of nine and who are we to argue, given he has won his last two starts at Galway? His latest victory over hurdles was particularly impressive as he gave lumps of weight and a beating to My Sister Sarah.
The conditions of the race are certainly in his favour. Despite being the highest-rated runner in the race with a mark of 158, he is actually in receipt of 6lb from Peregrine Run who is rated 1lb inferior to him.
The track, the trip and the ground are all ideal for The Storyteller so it would be disappointing if he did not complete the hat-trick.
Ornua and Whisperinthebreeze would both appear to have it all to do, but Paloma Blue might turn out to be The Stoyteller's biggest danger after a confidence-restoring win at Wexford recently.
It seems, though, that this is The Storyteller's race for the taking.
What they say
Henry De Bromhead, trainer of Ornua and Paloma Blue
Ornua has been quite consistent of late and always runs his race. The better the ground the better chance he has. Paloma Blue has always been a talented horse and it was great to see him get his head back in front at Wexford. That should fill him with confidence and I'd like to think he's got a decent sort of chance.
Peter Fahey, trainer of Peregrine Run
It's dry at the moment and they haven't got any rain at Listowel for the last few days so we thought we better let him take his chance here rather than wait for the Kerry National, in case the ground turned soft. He's in brilliant form and, while he's a bit wrong at the weights with The Storyteller, I do think small fields suit him.
Gordon Elliott, trainer of The Storyteller
He's been in great form of late, as good as he's ever been, and this looked an ideal sort of race for him. He's come off his win at Galway in good shape and looks to have every chance here.
Jessica Harrington, trainer of Whisperinthebreeze
He hasn't run since he got injured in the Paddy Power at Leopardstown over Christmas. It's a very hot race and a big ask for a horse who has been off for so long, but we've got to bring him back somewhere.