Kerry Lee plans Clonmel Oil Chase raid with Kylemore Lough

Shropshire trainer keen to try his luck across Irish Sea again after success at Fairyhouse

It is 13 years since a cross-channel raider won the Clonmel Oil Chase but Kerry Lee is hopeful the Grade One hero Kylemore Lough can continue her good Irish fortune in Thursday's €50,000 feature.

Kylemore Lough memorably secured top-flight honours last Easter in the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse, a festival at which Lee also landed the Grade Two Normans Grove Chase with Top Gamble.

Not surprisingly the Shropshire trainer is keen to cross the Irish Sea again with Kylemore Lough, one of 15 possible starters remaining in Clonmel’s two-and-a -half mile feature which was won last year by Road To Riches.

The Grade Two highlight boasts a notable roll-of-honour with Sizing Europe a winner in 2012 and the subsequent Gold Cup hero War Of Attrition scoring in 2005 at the start of his 'blue-riband' winning campaign.


In 2003 Henrietta Knight sent the King George and Champion Chase winning star Edredon Bleu to win the Clonmel race and Lee has been targeting the prize for some time as a perfect return to action for her own stable star.

“It’s a historic race and one I’ve had my eye on for a year or two. It’s the right trip, a good track and I’m really hopeful we’ll get our ground,” Lee said.

Kylemore Lough hasn't raced since winning the race formerly known as the Powers Gold Cup under British champion jockey Richard Johnson last March although Lee believes he is ready to get the new winter campaign under way.

Spot on

“It’s always quite tricky to get them spot on first time out but I’m very happy with him so far,” she said.

"Both Kylemore Lough and Top Gamble relished the trip to Fairyhouse and we really enjoy our trips to Ireland. "

The 2014 winner Champagne Fever remains among the 15 still left in the Clonmel Oil Chase although it is 19 months since the grey last ran so more attention could focus on another Willie Mullins entry, Black Hercules, winner of last season's JLT at the Cheltenham festival.

The ex-Mullins trained Outlander, runner-up to Kylemore Lough at Fairyhouse last Easter, is one of a trio of potential Gigginstown starters that also includes Roi Des Francs.

Both those horses though also feature among ten entries left in Saturday’s Betfair Chase at Haydock.

That Grade One is set to feature a clash between the 2015 Gold Cup hero Coneygree and the hugely popular Cue Card, winner of the race a year ago.

Cue Card has been installed as favourite in most ante-post lists ahead of Coneygree despite his recent loss to Irish Cavalier in Wetherby's Charlie Hall Chase.  Irish Cavalier is again set to take on Colin Tizzards' star.

Noel Meade won the Clonmel Oil with Road To Riches a year ago and the Co Meath trainer hasn’t ruled out a tilt at the race with Monksland. The former top staying hurdler fell in the JNwine Champion Chase at Down Royal earlier this month on his previous start.

“I entered him for Clonmel but I’m not sure two and a half around there is what he wants. We’ll see what else is running,” he reported.

“He was travelling well up north but it was a long way out to say he would have won. He’d been jumping so well and, if anything, he was too confident. Sean [Flanagan] said he started to trust him too much.

“He’s also in the Hennessy in England. That might be a big ask in a handicap in a big field with his jumping the way it is. We haven’t made a decision yet what we’re going to do,” Meade added.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column