ITV Racing Sunday Thurles and Lingfield Preview

Lingfield - January 23 2022
Lingfield 13:20
Harry Skelton


J: Harry Skelton
T: Dan Skelton
Age: 7
Weight: 10-12
Days: 43

The first event over hurdles is the 2m7f Novices' Hurdle and the Dan Skelton trained Ballygrifincottage looks one of the more likelier winners.

The seven year old has been five times in his career, but only once over rules, winning three of his four P2P efforts in Ireland before being bought and moving to the Skelton's.

He was given his rules debut in a tough event at Cheltenham in the Grade Two Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the December meeting and he went on to finish a good third behind two smart rivals.

Both Blazing Khal and Gelino Bello would be a class above this field and we find that form the strongest to go off, if Ballygrifincottage improves again and handles the ground.

Lingfield - January 23 2022
Lingfield 13:50
Harry Cobden

Il Ridoto

J: Harry Cobden
T: Paul Nicholls
Age: 5
Weight: 11-4
OR: 143
Days: 50

A very valuable event on the card is the two mile Novices' Chase and Il Ridoto for Paul Nicholls looks to be the horse with the most potential in this field.

Il Ridoto was a decent horse in France that was bought and given to Nicholls this season and has been seen three times since joining the yard.

Making his debut at Newton Abbot, in what looked a hot affair, he massively needed the run, but showed his true potential when heading to Newbury next time out when bolting up in a Handicap Chase off a mark of 131.

Turned around quickly after that impressive effort, he was tried in Grade One company at Sandown in the Henry VIII Novices' Chase and unfortunately it did not work with him being pulled up.

However, he has been given a long enough break after that and now back in a Novices' Chase he should get back on track.

The heavy ground should be no issue for him having performed well in France in those conditions and he still has bundles of improvement left in him.

Lingfield - January 23 2022
Lingfield 14:25
Keith Donoghue

Darver Star

J: Keith Donoghue
T: Gavin Cromwell
Age: 10
Weight: 11-0
OR: 156
Days: 23

One of the big races of the day is the 2m 3 1/2f hurdles event and we have sided with the Irish raider Darver Star, who got back to form in a big way last time out.

The Gavin Cromwell trained animal was an extremely smart hurdler two seasons back, finishing third to Envoi Allen in the Grade One Royal Bond Novices' Hurdle, a half length second to Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle and then a valiant third at the Cheltenham festival behind Epatante.

Sent chasing last term, he made a nice debut but after that lost his way going nine races without a win and not handling the step up to the bigger obstacles at all.

Like all good trainers do, Cromwell last time out moved him back over hurdle at Punchestown and in heavy ground he went on to win by 30 lengths.

If back to his best he could take all the beating, but this is a tougher event.

Thurles - January 23 2022
Thurles 14:40
L P Dempsey

Jeremys Flame

J: L P Dempsey
T: Gavin Cromwell
Age: 8
Weight: 11-2
Days: 21

The first race of the afternoon at Thurles is the 2m4f Grade Two Mares Novice Chase and Jeremys Flame for Gavin Cromwell looks the value.

Having been a smart hurdler over in Ireland, she was sent chasing last term and although knocking on the door never got off the mark.

Still a novice over fences this term, she has been seen four times, again running well behind some nice horses, but last time out finally got off the mark.

She went on to see off the Willie Mullins trained Dolcita by eight lengths at Naas and if building on that looks the value in the field.

Looks a less riskier bet than Minella Melody who has her first try over fences.

Lingfield - January 23 2022
Lingfield 15:00
Gavin Sheehan

Itchy Feet

J: Gavin Sheehan
T: Olly Murphy
Age: 8
Weight: 11-0
OR: 153
Days: 64

In the feature Fleur De Lys Chase we are taking a chance on the Olly Murphy trained Itchy Feet, who should handle the softer conditions.

Having been a smart hurdler, finishing third in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle behind Klassical Dream, he has also been a decent chaser landing a first Grade One for the yard at Sandown in the Scilly Isles Chase.

Although not winning since then he has been knocking on the door in some good races and on both his runs this term he has shown a high level of form.

He made his seasonal debut in the Grade Two Old Roan Chase when a length second to the reliable Allmankind.

He then went to Haydock and took on Bravemansgame in a good match up and stayed on well to only finish 2 3/4 lengths behind him and he has since franked the form in a big way.

Itchy Feet looks underestimated in this market and can go well.

Thurles - January 23 2022
Thurles 15:15
Paul Townend


J: Paul Townend
T: W P Mullins
Age: 8
Weight: 11-12
OR: 174
Days: 49

Another big event at Thurles on Sunday is the Grade Two Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase over 2m4f and Allaho looks very tough to beat.

Allaho was arguably the most impressive winner of the entire 2021 Cheltenham festival when landing the Grade One Ryanair Chase, making all from the front in eye catching fashion.

The build up of pace set by Rachel Blackmore on board that day had each and every rival slowly crumbling away and the manner by which he took every fence made it a coming of age performance.

Having been a smart hurdler, finishing third in the Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle back in 2019, he was sent chasing the next season and took some time to really find his form, but his narrow third in the Grade One RSA Novices' Chase was a big step forward

It wasn't until last season that he properly matured and was a horse to take notice of, finishing a good fourth in the three mile Savills Chase at Christmas and off the back of that was finally dropped back to his preferred 2m4f.

He went into this race at Thurles in January where he saw off stablemate Elimay with ease to land the event by an eased down three lengths.

This set him up perfectly for the 2021 Cheltenham festival where he gave the performance of the season to win the event by a clear 12 lengths.

Allaho finished off last term at the Punchestown festival when stepping down to two miles against stablemate Chacun Pour Soi and although running a big race had to settle for second, not having enough speed for the trip.

The eight year old returned this term in the Grade One John Durkan Chase and from the front went on to see off a superb field of runners.

Given a good break ahead of this prep race before the Cheltenham festival he should be right at it.

Lingfield - January 23 2022
Lingfield 15:35
Tom Bellamy


J: Tom Bellamy
T: Emma Lavelle
Age: 9
Weight: 10-7
OR: 116
Days: 21

The penultimate event of the afternoon is the Surrey National Handicap Chase over a marathon trip and Pemberley for Emma Lavelle ticks a lot of boxes for us.

The nine year old is weighted to strike having been running consistently all season and is still getting weight off most of his rivals.Since February 2020 this gelding has raced six times and has put up two thirds, three second and a win over staying trips, mostly on soft/heavy ground.

This season the likeable stayer made his seasonal debut at Lingfield finishing a good second behind the smart Fantastikas who has since franked the form.

He then went to Warwick and got off the mark for the term when landing a handicap event over three miles on soft ground off a mark of 110.

Targeted at the Sussex National at Plumpton at the start of January he plugged on well in very heavy ground to finish a valiant second.Running off the same mark for this event makes him a huge player with plenty in his favour.


James Mackie | @jamesmackieee