Barry Geraghty will take to 14/1 shot Panther Claw in a bid to win the upcoming Thyestes Handicap Chase at Gowran Park and potentially outline his Grand National credentials in the process.
Both Hedgehunter and Numbersixvalverde have landed the Thyestes and the Aintree showpiece in recent years with Panther Claw primed to overcome the first of those obstacles.
Now in his second season over fences the Paul Nolan-trained chance has a fantastic opportunity to secure a maiden Thyestes victory for his saddler and there is plenty of evidence to support the eight-year-old’s claims.
Eight of the previous 10 winners of this renewal have carried less than 10-9 on their backs, a negative for some of the market principals but a trend that goes in favour of Geraghty’s mount.
Willie Mullins saddles joint-favourite Vesper Belll (8/1) and 2012 winner On His Own (10/1), although they’ll both go off with at least a stone more to drag around during the 3m1f trip.
That leaves Nolan’s outsider with a potential advantage and having performed well on soft to heavy ground before there’s every reason to believe the conditions won’t prove too much of a hindrance.
Although he’s yet to spark into life this term, Panther Claw stayed on well to secure a smart third place in the previous running of the Theyestes with a fifth in the Irish Grand National also worth noting.
Victories at Navan and Punchestown, the former in the hands of Geraghty, were seasonal highlights for the Gigginstown-owned entrant.
Meanwhile, running after Christmas is another factor that’s been significant in the past. Each of the last 10 winners have appeared after the 25th December, a statistic worth noting with regards to a number of other hopefuls.
Jockey Kevin Sexton goes in search of a hat-trick on board 10/1 chance Playing, with the most recent of his victories at Cork secured in early January.
Tim Duggan Memorial Chase entrant Lookoutnow could also be a horse to look out for with runners at Limerick’s Christmas meeting also faring well in this renewal.
His sixth place in that race wasn’t a scintillating performance but having won twice on heavy ground at Gowran Park before he’s got to enter consideration.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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