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Dark Horses 24th Feb

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3:40 Thurles – Gatsby Grey

This is a very competitive renewal of this Grade 3 Novice hurdle, but GATSBY GREY makes a lot of appeal at the weights and is the least exposed of the lineup. He won a Navan bumper in March 2021 and although he was off for 9-months after that victory, he showed no ill effects following that absence when he returned to win on his hurdles debut at Limerick over Christmas. He travelled extremely well that day on the heavy ground and quickly put the race to bed once Barry Browne asked him for his effort at the 2nd last, going away to win by 7-lengths. His connections rolled the dice on his last start when running him in the Grade 1 Novice at the Dublin racing festival, where he finished 7th to Sir Gerhard. He was outclassed in that field, though it is worth noting that he was easily the least experienced and should be forgiven that run. He drops into much calmer waters on Thursday and makes a lot of appeal on a track that should suit.

4:15 Thurles – Franciscan Rock

The most likely winners of this maiden hurdle are Ramilles and Fameaftertheglory. They both bring solid bumper form to the table and have run to a fair standard in their hurdle races to date, but neither is a certainty, and their presence may give a decent each-way price about FRANCISCAN ROCK. Mouse Morris’ 5-year-old is well related and made a perfectly good start to his career when 4th in a Navan maiden hurdle last month. He was only beaten by 10-lengths and easily outran his odds. That form has been boosted since with the 2nd and 6th both winning on their next starts. If Franciscan Rock can find some improvement on his 2nd start, he could build on that debut effort and cause an upset.

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