Five-times chase winner Southern Vic heads the 16-declared runners for tomorrow’s Ellen Construction Thyestes Handicap Chase at Gowran Park.
The eight-year-old will be bidding to provide trainer Ted Walsh, successful with Roc De Prince in 1991, with another success and his in-form son Ruby with his first victory in the €100,000 feature.
Bob Treacy in 1999 was the last horse to successfully shoulder top-weight while British raider Couldn't Be Better two years earlier and Lucisis in 1987 have also achieved this feat in the last 20 years.
Kymandjen, owned by race sponsor Murt Doran, Troytown runner-up Kerryhead Windfarm and Paddy Power Chase third and fourth Cheeky Lady and Well Tutored are also declared. Ferdy Murphy’s Kitski is the sole British challenger hoping to emulate Couldn't Be Better (1997), Zeta's Lad (93) and Mweenish
(90) in recent years.
Willie Mullins has won it twice before with Micko’s Dream (2000) and subsequent Aintree National scorer Hedgehunter (2004) and he is triple handed with Joueur D’Estruval, Livingstonebramble and Homer Wells.
The going at Gowran is currently heavy and the forecast s for a bright day on Thursday with the first race due off at 1.15pm and the big one at 2.45pm.
Tom Taaffe's Emotional Moment bids for a hat-trick of wins in the Alo Duffin Memorial Galmoy Hurdle but the 10yo's recent form isn't encouraging and preference is for Celestial Wave.
Adrian Maguire's 7yo mare routed some of today's rivals (Strangely Brown, Rosaker and Emotional Moment) in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown and looks a mare on her way to the top in the staying division.
Celestial Wave's main danger may come from Willie Mullins' Our Ben, a high class novice hurdler who has done well over fences despite a costly final fence fall at Thurles last time out.
The useful Snowy Mountain can land the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Steeplechase while the concluding seven runner winners' bumper may fall to Joe Crowley's Punchestown October winner Stradbrook.