Nine runners are scheduled to go to post for the Jim Strang & Sons Kilsheelan (Peugeot) Hurdle, the most valuable race on Thursday’s card at Clonmel.
Burrows Saint (165) sets the standard on Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings, the 2019 Irish Grand National winner who ran a stormer when last seen finishing fourth in the Grand National at Aintree in April, jumping and travelling well but faltering late on.
Aintree is presumably the main aim again this season, but Burrows Saint is capable of smart form over hurdles on his day and he should play a leading role here if ready to go after eight months on the sidelines. Admittedly, he’ll need to run better than he did when beaten 45 lengths into second in this contest on last season’s reappearance, but the fact he is trained by Willie Mullins – who has the ‘Hot Trainer’ Flag to denote that the yard is in top form – suggests he won’t lack for fitness.
Minx Tiara (162) is a useful hurdler with solid claims of making the frame on these terms. She posted a career-best effort after six months off when third in a handicap hurdle at Galway in October, looking the likeliest winner for a long way before being collared close home. She did well to last as long as she did under a really positive ride, her quick and accurate jumping putting the pressure on her rivals from a good way out. After shaping similarly when fourth at Naas last time, she could prove difficult to peg back if getting an easy lead in this small field.
The Declan Queally-trained Western Victory (155) is another mare who arrives here in good form. She won a listed mares’ event at Gowran Park in October before running at least as well in defeat when third in a similar contest at Punchestown last time. She is consistent and that should continue to stand her in good stead, though it’s worth pointing out that her very best form has been achieved over shorter trips.
Perhaps the most interesting contender in the line-up is Pencilfulloflead (148+), who developed into a smart chaser for the Gordon Elliott yard last season, notably winning the Grade 2 Florida Pearl Novice Chase at Punchestown. He was a winning hurdler in 2019/20 and there must be a good chance he has more to offer in this sphere given the improvement he showed over the larger obstacles. He has gone well fresh in the past and this looks a good opening for his return to action.
Timeform Analyst's Verdict:
Pencilfulloflead may have plenty more to offer and given his decent record fresh this could be a good stepping stone to further glory. Burrows Saint, fourth in the National, presumably has the second Saturday in April and another trip to Aintree as his main target, but he's a force over hurdles and seems sure to go well again having been second in this last year.
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