Preview Thurles 23rd Dec

Sat 22nd Dec 2012, 12:50

Thurles is the only meeting in Ireland or Britain on Sunday and Midnight Game is likely to be a warm order for the feature Horse And Jockey Hotel Hurdle.

A decent novice last season, he came up slightly short against the very best but reappeared with a comprehensive defeat of Staying Article at Fairyhouse.

He also beat Joxer at the 2011 Leopardstown Christmas meeting and that rival reopposes in this Listed contest.

Arnaud and Edeymi haven't exactly started their campaigns with a bang but both were decent juveniles last term and have to enter the equation as well.

Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci have snapped up some exciting prospects from France and the latest is Unika La Reconce, who makes her Irish debut in the Gift Horse Gallery Horse & Jockey Hotel Mares Maiden Hurdle.

Second over fences when last seen in September, she has most to fear from Dubh Go Leir, who has hit the crossbar on her last three outings.

Mullins saddles Bowfinger in the INH Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle, but his form is ordinary at best and Ruby Walsh partners the Conor O'Dwyer-trained Limerick runner-up Caballo De Marcus, while Gortroe also finished second on his most recent run and is another worthy contender.

The Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase gets proceedings under way at 12.30 and Lord Lir is of interest on his first foray outside novice company.

Robertstown Rover was a comprehensive winner from out of the handicap at Fairyhouse last week and is only 7lb higher for the Molony Cup Handicap Chase.

This is a competitive affair, though, with Thurles one-two-three Whiskey And Red, Another Flutter and Code Dancer among the opposition.

Playing tries to supplement his Clonmel gains in the Exit 6 To The Horse & Jockey Novice Handicap Hurdle, while Mullins' Goldboy reappears in the concluding Curaheen (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race.

The Cheltenham Festival - Will You Have a Flutter?

The Cheltenham Festival begins on the 14th March. The excitement is building: horses are being put through their final preparations on the gallops, jockeys are being booked for rides and anticipation is high for the four day Festival. Many thousands of racing fans will make the trip to the Cotswolds while others will watch from afar but, one thing is for sure, they will all have a bet on their fancies for the big races.

THE IRISH TIMES