Sweeney's set for big run: Nolan
ASIDE from any of the big racing festivals, Thyestes Chase day at Gowran Park has to be one of the most enjoyable race meetings you are likely to find.
The picturesque Kilkenny track is annually bustling and thriving on the third Thursday of January as the Goffs-sponsored Grade A contest attracts some of the better staying chasers in the country for the €80,000 race, which can often unleash a strong candidate for the Irish or English Grand National.
Willie Mullins is looking for a fifth win in the race at his local track and his Bishopsfurze was disputing favouritism with John Halley's Outlaw Pete and the Terence O'Brien-trained Glenquest earlier in the week.
However, a trainer with aspirations to land another big handicap success is trainer Paul Nolan who appears to have striking claims with the unexposed Sweeney Tunes.
The seven-year-old, who also holds an entry for the Leopardstown Chase on Saturday, was given the green light to head to Gowran Park tomorrow with "a lovely racing weight" of 10st6lbs, according to his Wexford-based trainer.
"The plan is for him to go. He's a lovely horse who was very impressive when he won at Thurles on his first start for us and we gave him a big chance at Punchestown the next day in a good race," Nolan told the Herald.
"He really disappointed us that day, however, as he looked like he was going to come and give them all a tough race but he dropped out.
"However, he was lame the next day and had a problem behind, which we have now sorted but that is why he hasn't run since November. He worked well last week and again on Monday and he's in really good form so we are hoping he will run a big race."
Sweeney Tunes' owners Gigginstown House Stud won the race with Siegemaster in 2011 and must rely on just the one runner, with other entries Tofino Bay - a winner at Naas last weekend - and Panther Claw set to go for the Grand National Trial at Punchestown instead.
Sweeney Tunes certainly looks a progressive type and if he handles the surroundings of his first handicap without behind overly fazed he could run a big race at 16/1.
Last year's runner-up, Tullintain, will race off just a two pound higher mark than last time when he was no match for winner On His Own, but still looks well treated by the handicapper after a good effort at Limerick on nearly unraceable ground over Christmas.
Robert Tyner said: "He was unlucky. Jim Dreaper's horse fell and interfered badly with us, otherwise we would have won. Mind, if he hadn't have fallen, we'd still only have been second!
"He seems to go through the heavy ground well enough so that won't be a problem."