NAP of the Day: Irish Panther to finally get off the mark at Thurles

 | November 29 | 

3 mins read

Owen McMahon's NAP of the Day

With sub-zero temperatures threatening to put paid to all three cards in the UK on Thursday, I've gone to Thurles for my NAP of the Day.

NAP of the Day

  • 15:00 Thurles - Irish Panther @ 6/4

I don't think Willie Mullins has ever been in truly bad form, but I do think it's fair to say he isn't firing on all cylinders at present.

That might not be apparent on the face of it, with him operating at a 28% strike rate courtesy of 13 winners from 47 runners over the last two weeks, but when you dig a little deeper there's some cause for concern.

During those two weeks, the Closutton maestro has had 11 beaten favourites - including five at odds-on. Even some of his winners have underperformed on the way to victory, with Mister Policeman and Readin Tommy Wrong the first to come to mind.

Therefore, I want to oppose Daddy Long Legs, who's currently joint-favourite for this 2m½f maiden hurdle at Thurles on Thursday.

The four-year-old, who fetched €210,000 in July last year, has a fair reputation, but here's the facts. He's flat-bred and has only ran once - in defeat on the level in France - to date, exactly 555 days ago. Combine that with Willie's patchy recent form and I think we've got a favourite worth opposing.

But with who? The market suggests there's three likely rivals, and I completely agree.

Farmers Lodge is one of them, but he returns after two years on the sidelines so is hard to advise - while Cleatus Poolaw, despite being race-fit and representing powerful connections, was slightly disappointing in a bumper earlier this month and I suspect he could run at Fairyhouse on Saturday instead, in search of deeper ground.

That leaves Edward O'Grady's Irish Panther, who I'm prepared to give one more chance.

I say that because he's hardly been easy to follow to date. Perhaps that's a little harsh when you consider the calibre of horses - namely Fact To File, Ballyburn, Walk Away Harry and Farren Glory - he's finished behind, but only once have I witnessed him really put his head down and run through the line, which is a concern.

I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for getting beat on his hurdling debut as he clearly bumped into a top prospect in Farren Glory, who looks set to contest the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse this weekend. The selection had the rest of the field well-behind, so it's not like there was no promise to take out of it.

He was weak in the betting that day too, suggesting he needed the run. So he should strip fitter today, and appreciate the drop back to two miles on better ground.

Maybe the Mullins horse will live up to his lofty reputation, but all things considered I'd much rather be with Irish Panther.

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