Thursday: 1.05 Thurles
BetVictor Chase (Listed) | 2m6f | 5yo+ | RTV
No Al Boum Photo, no problem.
The dual Cheltenham Gold Cup hero may be missing because of good ground but Willie Mullins' multiple Graded winner Cilaos Emery takes his place and it should be a pretty straightforward assignment for him if the ratings are anything to go by.
Cilaos Emery, whose sole Grade 1 win came in the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown in 2017 when he beat stablemate Melon, has an official rating of 160 over fences That is 11lb superior to Darver Star, who appears to be the only danger on form.
We have not seen Cilaos Emery since he was beaten by Samcro at Killarney in May, but he did contest the Champion Chase at Cheltenham and the Punchestown equivalent, so this Listed prize represents a big drop in class for Brian Hayes's mount.
This Listed prize has been won by some household names over the years, most notably Noble Prince (2013), Sir Des Champs (2015), Champagne Fever (2016), Footpad (2019) and Presenting Percy (2020).
Darver Star was third to Epatante in the 2020 Champion Hurdle and made a bright start to his chasing career when winning a beginners' chase at Punchestown in October last year by a dozen lengths.
He hasn't won since, however, and arrives at Thurles on something of a retrieval mission having fallen at the second-last at Naas this month when out of contention.
This 2m6f trip is the furthest he has gone, but trainer Gavin Cromwell does not think it will pose a problem.
Cromwell said: "I think he'll stay. We're hoping for a clear round and this will tell us a lot more about him. Cilaos Emery is going to be hard to beat and we have a bit to find on ratings. He's been fine after Naas, not a bother on him."
The quartet is completed by the 115-rated Knock On Steel, who could force a strong early pace, and Mamaslittlestar from the James Fahey stable.