On His Own gave Willie Mullins a fourth success in the Thyestes last yearPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Punters turn to Pete to gun down Thyestes rivals
GOWRAN Park offers the only option for a wager on jump racing on Thursday, and it was apparent on the eve of the Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase card that lightly-weighted Outlaw Pete will be in the corner of an army of punters.
The John Halley-trained nine-year-old, owned by leading owner and legendary punter JP McManus, was on Wednesday halved in price down to 5-1 favourite for the feature contest.
As has become the norm in staying handicap chases in Ireland, McManus launches the biggest numerical challenge for a prize that he won in 1995 and 1996 with Wylde Hide, and as well as Outlaw Pete is represented by the Tony McCoy-ridden The Westener Boy - around a 9-1 chance - and In Great Form, who is generally 14s.
Outlaw Pete carries 10st 2lb and is the mount of Josh Halley, whose father John trains the favourite.
"We're delighted with him," said John Halley. "He's in great order and will like the trip and the ground. He's also got a nice low weight and we're very hopeful of a good run."
Bishopsfurze is top weight with 11st 7lb and second favourite for the €520,000 race at around 6-1. Trainer Willie Mullins would equal Tom Dreaper's five victories should his representative defy the burden.
Only one horse has won the Thyestes since 2000 with more than 11st to carry, and Mullins said: "We decided on Bishopsfurze as our runner as he handles the ground best and has a local owner. It's a very stiff task for a top weight, though, and you have to factor that into his chances."
The ground at Gowran Park on Wednesday was heavy. A slight frost was forecast, but no problems were anticipated, and there is fresh ground for the chase track.
The other feature on a card which provides a decent slice of quality amid a weather-hit programme of jumping in Britain and Ireland is the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle.
The clash between Bog Warrior and Zaidpour could provide a pointer to the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, with both protagonists in the five-runner event generally 12-1 for the Cheltenham Festival contest.
Champion trainer Willie Mullins fields Zaidpour and said: "He is in good form and if he runs to his best he will have a great chance of repeating last year's win. However, Bog Warrior looks a formidable opponent, getting 4lb off our horse, based on his last two runs."