It’s Pierce Molony Memorial Chase Day at Thurles Racecourse on Saturday (16:05 on March 23) and the Pierce Molony Memorial Chase is the highlight of six class one races on the card.
The race takes place over 2 miles and 2 furlongs and carries a first prize of €29,500 to the winner. The race is set to be run on good ground and just four runners are set to go to post.
Pierce Molony Memorial Novice Chase 2019 Runner-By-Runner Guide
Jessica Harrington’s seven-year-old has spent most of the season chasing home some high-class horses in graded races such as La Bague Au Roi, Winter Escape, Hardline, and Delta Work and he should find this more his level.
He’s actually already beaten his main market rival twice this season at Navan, winning by half-a-length back in November and then finishing well ahead of him earlier this month, despite Duca Du Thaix being sent-off favourite on both occasions.
The potential problems for him here are that he unseated on his last run and he now must concede weight to all of his rivals. His trainer tries to offset that by adding first-time cheek-pieces and reuniting him with Paul Townend who was in the saddle when he won two starts ago.
Gordon Elliott’s six-year-old was a very average hurdler who only managed to win off a mark of 102 over the smaller obstacles. Despite that, he’s won five of his 13 starts over fences this season and comes into this race rated 142.
He was pulled up when a 16/1 chance at Cheltenham last time in a handicap but more of a worry is he has to concede 4lbs to stablemate Duca Du Thaix who beat him earlier in the season conceding him 4lbs.
By far the least experienced of today’s quartet and he’s had just six runs since making his debut under rules in May 2018. The first of those two runs were in hurdle races after which he won a Leopardstown bumper.
He then made little impression in his first chase behind the potentially top-class Cilaos Emery but ran a nice race to finish just a length behind Ex Patriot on his next start. He then finished over eight lengths behind Jetz last time (in front of Duca De Thaix), staying on like he may be better over further. However, improvement is possible and he’s 7lbs better off with Jetz here.
Duca De Thaix
Officially rated the highest of these over fences on a mark of 150 but that may flatter him judged on his hurdles rating in the mid 130’s and his two defeats by Jetz this season. It’s also a little strange that Davy Russell has ridden him to both his chase wins but he’s on Cubomania whom Duca De Thaix has beaten this season.
He’s also better off at the weights with both Jetz and Cubomania, which should entitle him to win this race, but you do have to forgive him a poor run last time. There’s also a suspicion that this strong traveller is a bit soft at the end of his races.
Pierce Molony Memorial Novice Chase 2019 Verdict
Duca De Thaix is weighted to win today’s contest but an extra two-furlongs up the Thurles hill may not be what he wants, and he ran badly last time behind two of today’s rivals. He may be over the top for the season.
Jetz does stay on powerfully at the end of his races but he unseated last time and must concede weight all round.
That means it could be worth chancing the lightly-raced Benruben who gets a 7lbs pull with Jetz on their running at Navan. He may also appreciate this slightly longer trip and his best form has come on good ground.