He's back! Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy returns to action at Gowran

Philip Reynolds on Presenting Percy's lameness: 'I'm hoping it’s not too serious.'
Davy Russell and Presenting Percy were victorious in the RSA Chase last seasonCredit: Michael Steele (Getty Images)

Guess who's back? After a ten-month absence, Presenting Percy, last year's impressive RSA Chase winner at the Cheltenham Festival, makes his return to action at Gowran Park in the Grade 2 John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle on Thursday, a race he won last year en route to the festival.

The Pat Kelly-trained eight-year-old, the general 4-1 favourite for the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup in March has been absent from action over the winter owing to unsuitably quick ground and has not raced since his seven-length victory over Monalee at Cheltenham in March.

Eddie Scally, general manager of Gowran Park Racecourse, said: "We are delighted to have the Gold Cup favourite here and the race looks like being a good test for him.

"Overall its a high-class card and we are grateful for the support that owners and trainers have given Gowran Park on our big day, we can't wait for the action to begin. Gates will be open at 11am."

Presenting Percy's position as Gold Cup favourite has hardened despite his absence with last year's winner, Native River, running twice without winning and a general 9-2 chance to retain his crown. Gold Cup runner-up Might Bite has disappointed on both starts, most recently in the King George, and will not run again before the festival having had wind surgery.

Presenting Percy in numbers

17 races
9 wins
2 Cheltenham Festival wins
316 days since last run
£258,466 career earnings

Presenting Percy will face 11 rivals on Thursday, including Grade 1-winning chaser Don Poli and the Willie Mullins-trained Bleu Berry, Killultagh Vic and Limini.

Bleu Berry, who won the Coral Cup at Cheltenham last year, makes his first start since last summer, while 2016 festival winner Limini bids to bounce back from a disappointing run at Leopardstown last time out.

Don Poli, last seen pulling up in the Becher Chase in December, reverts to hurdles for the first time since April 2014 and is a 33-1 shot for the Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival next month.

The race also features former RSA runner-up Shaneshill and Grade 1-winning novice hurdler Dortmund Park.

Presenting Percy is 7-4 with Paddy Power to land this Grade 2 contest for a second time, while Coquin Man and Bapaume are next best in the market at 10-3 and 5-1 respectively.

'The little rat' Tiger Roll lands the Grand National under Davy Russell, by a whisker from Pleasant Company
Pleasant Company: runs at Gowran on ThursdayCredit: Grossick Racing 07710461723

Ireland's champion trainer also fields a strong hand in the Thyestes Handicap Chase, a race he lost won in 2015 with subsequent dual Gold Cup runner-up Djakadam, including Grand National runner-up Pleasant Company and Invitation Only.

Gordon Elliott will saddle seven runners including Out Sam, Alpha Des Obeaux and Monbeg Notorious.

The going at Gowran is currently soft, yielding in places with the possibility of some light showers this afternoon.

Galmoy full of Cheltenham class

The Galmoy Hurdle field oozes Cheltenham class with five different horses boasting seven festival wins between them and the 12 runners responsible for another five placed efforts.

Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy leads the way with a perfect two out of two record at the festival after bolting up in the 2017 Pertemps Final and last season’s RSA Novices’ Chase.

Don Poli, somewhat a forgotten horse after his injury woes, is also a dual festival winner, having won the Martin Pipe and RSA Novices’ Chase in consecutive years before finishing third in the Gold Cup.

The Willie Mullins-battalion are responsible for the remaining three festival victories. Killultagh Vic is also a Martin Pipe winner and Limini’s Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle success and Bleu Berry’s Coral Cup triumph last March complete the list.

Finally, spare a thought for Shaneshill, who has the unfortunate tag of finishing second at three festivals on the spin.

Read The Briefing from 8.30am daily on with all the day's latest going, weather, market moves and non-runner news

Kitty TriceBloodstock journalist

Published on 23 January 2019inNews

Last updated 18:20, 23 January 2019