Arvika camp hopeful
he can start with win
Clonmel Oil Chase (Grade 2) | 2m4f, 5yo+ | ATR
BRILLIANT chasers have been descending on this small country track for decades for this €45,000 event that is today a Grade 1 in all but name, with a roll of honour including Gold Cup winners War Of Attrition and Imperial Call, King George winner Edredon Bleu, and Dorans Pride.
This year the race hosts the return to action of one of last season's most exciting novices Arvika Ligeonniere, who capped an eventful term with a comprehensive victory in the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase at Punchestown in April.
Among his challengers is stablemate Mikael D'Haguenet and 2011 John Durkan Chase winner Rubi Light. The trio have already notched seven Grade 1 victories between them.
This race has a rich history of producing winners who go on to score at the highest level - last season's winner Sizing Europe won the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown, Tranquil Sea went on to win the John Durkan three years ago, War Of Attrition won the 2006 Gold Cup, while Rathgar Beau won the previous year's Punchestown Champion Chase and Edredon Bleu took the King George at Kempton.
In fact class acts have dominated this race over the last ten years. Mossbank, for example, won this in 2007 and was then good enough to finish second in the Ryanair Chase at the festival.
Superior record going right
Arvika Ligeonniere has won four of his six starts over fences and six of 12 starts in all. His two defeats over fences came when he failed to complete, and both were on left-handed tracks, where his overall record reads 241FP. Going right-handed, like today, his record is 4121111.
Don't underestimate Toner
Gordon Elliott's team is in fine order and his runners have been punching knock-out blows above their class. Roi Du Mee was the 12-1 outsider of six when landing the Grade 1 JNwine.com Champion Chase two weeks ago and Toner D'Oudairies was 8-1 when beating that rival and 4-5 favourite First Lieutenant in a Grade 3 at Punchestown a month ago. With that in mind it is best not to underestimate Toner D'Oudairies today.
What they say
Robbie Hennessy, trainer of Rubi Light
"He worked well the other day and Andrew Lynch was delighted with him. We'd have preferred more rain, but what can you do? It was good ground at Gowran Park when he was third to Sizing Europe. Arvika Ligeonniere looks the one to beat but I'm clinging to th e one clear advantage we have in that Rubi Light has already had a run this season."
John Ryan, trainer of Foildubh
"He's in serious order and I couldn't be happier with him. He's better over fences, but we purposely kept him over hurdles in the early part of the season because it takes him a few runs to get very fit. He's going to get some nice ground too, which he loves. "
Willie Mullins, trainer of Arvika Ligeonniere and Mikael D'Haguenet
"Both horses are in good form. The trip shouldn't be any problem for Arvika Ligeonniere as he won the Drinmore over it first time out last year and we're hoping he's able to win first time out this year too. Mikael D'Haguenet has also won chases over the trip and usually goes well first time out."
Noel Meade, trainer of Texas Jack
"It's a hot race, but we'll take our chance. He should have improved for his run at Down Royal and will hopefully run well."
Gordon Elliott, trainer of Toner D'Oudairies
"He's in good form and came out of his run in the Grade 2 at Down Royal well. He likes a small field so we felt it worth letting him take his chance here."
Clonmel yielding to soft (hurdle and bumper), good to yielding (chase)
Ludlow good, good to soft in places
Taunton good, good to firm in places
Today's key pointers
Since 2006, Paul Nicholls has sent 32 horses to Taunton for handicap chases and not one of them has won, of which 13 were in novice handicaps. Sin Bin would have a big statistic to overcome if he is to win the 2.10.
The claimer has been run only three times, but every winner has been the highest-rated on official figures. Barnaby Brook has that honour this year.
Pointers courtesy of Raceform Interactive