/ Racing

Arvika Ligeonniere heads Clonmel Oil Chase field

Updated: Thursday, 14 Nov 2013 12:41 | Comments

Arvika Ligeonniere should be suited by the course at Clonmel as he has shown a pronounced preference for right-hand tracks
Arvika Ligeonniere should be suited by the course at Clonmel as he has shown a pronounced preference for right-hand tracks

Connections of Arvika Ligeonniere are looking forward to starting the eight-year-old's second season over fences in the Clonmel Oil Chase at the County Tippperary course on Thursday.

The Rich Ricci-owned gelding showed himself to be a tip-top prospect by winning all five of his completed starts last term culminating in the Ryanair Novice Chase at Punchestown.

However, Willie Mullins' charge did blot his copybook with a fall in the Arkle Chase at Leopardstown when odds-on favourite and he was pulled up at Cheltenham in March.

"For Arvika it's the right way around - his best form seems to be going right-handed," said the trainer's son, Patrick.

"Two and a half miles shouldn't be a problem and he looks well in at the weights so it's a good starting point for the season."

In same ownership, the Mullins team also run Mikael D'Haguenet, who may not have lived up to his tall reputation but is a smart performer when getting his act together.

"As regards Mikael D'Haguenet two and a half is probably his optimum trip as well. Again he gets in very well at the weights so we're going to let him take his chance too," said Mullins jnr.

"The two of them are in good form and ready for their first run of the season. Arvika would obviously be our main hope but Mikael is a good super sub."

Robbie Hennessy reports his stable favourite Rubi Light to be in fine shape, although he would like to see rain ahead of the Grade Two heat.

"He's in great form. He worked the other morning when Andrew (Lynch) was very happy with him," said the County Meath handler.

"He schooled him over a few fences and he went very well.

"He would probably prefer if we got a bit of rain, but what can you do. The more rain the better, though, really. He'll go on the ground, but it's just that he goes on the soft a lot better than a lot of them.

"They're expecting rain, but how much they get is difficult to know.

"I'd like to see the word 'good' gone out of the going description and I'd suppose in any case Arvika Ligeonniere looks the one to beat as he has that bit of class."

Renewing rivalry are Gordon Elliott's Toner D'Oudairies and the Noel Meade-trained Texas Jack, who were second and third to Rolling Aces in the Powers Irish Whiskey Chase at Down Royal earlier this month.

John Ryan's consistent sort Foildubh completes the sextet.

Eamonn Gallagher believes Backinthere deserves a shot at the Grade Three European Breeders Fund TA Morris Memorial Mares Chase on the same card.

The eight-year-old struck at the first time of asking over fences at this track, landing a beginners event over the same two-and-half-mile trip.

He said: "There was no ideal race to go for, so this was there for her, and we'll take our chance as she's in serious form.

"She jumped a bit novicey the last day but she schooled this morning over fences and she jumped superbly.

"She's won twice at Clonmel, over hurdles and then over the course and distance the last day. Ideally she'd want heavier ground, though she won on yielding the last time. I'm hopeful of a very good run as she's never let us down.

"I'd be praying for rain because she's all about stamina and she's tough.

"With the likes of Dazzling Susie in the opposition, a strong pace might bring a bit of stamina into play."

Barry Geraghty gets the leg-up on Caoimhe's Delight with recent partner Adrian Heskin opting to ride Backinthere.

Sean O'Brien's charge finished second in the Thurles race when Avondu Lady was fourth but had previously been beaten at Grade Three level behind Rebel Fitz.

O'Brien said: "The trip and the ground will suit. The last day she ran over two-two which is on the sharp side for her as all her best form is over two and a half plus.

"She's in great form and I'm expecting a big run from her which is the long and the short of it.

"Her form has been rock solid over fences and as with last season she seems to be getting better with every run.

"She's definitely come on a bit from her Thurles run the last day and with that in mind she should have as good a chance as anything in this.

"I'd suppose like all of the rest of the mares in it, we're after the black type.

"She's been very good to us and I just think the further she'll go trip-wise over fences the better she'll be."

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