There are British punters who never so much as peek inside the Irish form book outside of Cheltenham week, but such hidebound attitudes must be abandoned now the action in this country has been stilled.
The ITV4 cameras will be at Thurles to show five races from an absorbing card full of the names we were bandying around just last week, including Jessica Harrington, who can land the big race with Sizing Pottsie (3.10). A powerful looking animal, he has apparently been held in high regard since arriving at the yard, which is as it should be for a horse that cost €220,000 and comes from the family of Escartefigue.
Hurdles held no fascination for him but he has bloomed over fences and carries a penalty here for a 12-length success in the Flyingbolt three weeks ago. He covered a fair bit of the track that day but Robbie Power was happy to take the blame for that, saying he was looking for better ground.
The pair should get that here and it may not necessarily help, as there is some risk of getting outpaced off the home turn by a rival like Capuccimix. But Sizing Pottsie should have plenty more to offer and appeals at the 5-2 available at the time of writing.
1.40 Politesse was chalked up as favourite when betting opened and there was much to like about the way Lorna Fowler’s mare ran away with a bumper at this track last month. But this first try over hurdles asks a different question and Fakiera’s credentials are more clear. From the Gordon Elliott stable, he has been runner-up in a couple of similar races at Naas and Leopardstown and would be unlucky to bump into another one good enough to best him here.
2.10 Mary Frances is the obvious one, having won the Pertemps qualifier at Punchestown last month. But that race worked out well for her and it is possible she did not achieve as much as the bare form suggests. A case can be made for Moyhenna, who has had an abortive season so far but showed plenty of improvement to win two on the bounce last spring.
She was just getting into the argument when asked to take off on a huge stride three-out at Limerick over Christmas, which ended badly. She was then in over her head in the Thyestes but these are much calmer waters and the first-time cheekpieces may help to get her back in the winner’s enclosure.
2.40 The aptly named Johnny Little Legs finished strongly but just too late here a fortnight ago and is ready to win something when he gets the breaks. But the market sees his chance and there could be more value in Hide Out, whose Punchestown seventh last month was pretty eye-catching. That was his handicap debut and he could be up to winning a race like this, if ridden with a bit more aggression.
3.40 Switched out of hunter chasing last year, Trumps Ace turns out to have been very well treated and can secure a third straight win. She had more in hand over Kavanaghs Corner than the result suggests from their December encounter at Clonmel and won tidily there again in January. That undulating, right-handed circuit is not wildly dissimilar to this one and Trumps Ace should also be helped by the extra half-mile.