Sub Lieutenant aiming to emulate former Gold Cup heroes at Thurles

Sizing John and Don Cossack claimed Grade Three Horse & Jockey Kinloch Brae Chase

Sub Lieutenant is a 50-1 outsider for Cheltenham Gold Cup glory in March but could take a significant step towards steeplechasing's 'Blue Riband' at Thurles on Sunday.

The Grade Three Horse & Jockey Kinloch Brae Chase has thrown up the last two Cheltenham Gold Cup heroes.

It was won a year ago by Sizing John, who beat Sub Lieutenant, while Don Cossack scored in 2016 before securing his own landmark Gold Cup success two months later.

The Kinloch Brae's big-race pedigree also includes Newmill's 2006 victory prior to landing the Queen Mother Champion Chase.


Sub Lieutenant is the only one of the dozen entries left in this Sunday’s contest to hold a Gold Cup entry and he could try to go one better than 2017.

However trainer Henry De Bromhead has also left Sub Lieutenant in the upcoming Unibet Irish Gold Cup and on Tuesday he indicated stamina could be the forte of last season's Ryanair Chase runner-up.

"Sub Lieutenant is a horse that I think is crying out for three miles." De Bromhead said. "He finished just behind Road To Respect at Punchestown but ran terrible in the JN Wine Chase. I think three miles is what he wants but again I think he's probably better on better ground."

The going at Thurles is currently "soft" ahead of a card featuring the Grade Two Coolmore Mares Novice Chase.

Gigginstown Stud’s Christmas Grade One winner Shattered Love tops the 11 entries left in the race. Her stable companion Dinaria Des Obeaux is also a potential runner.


In other news directors of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board have deemed Devine Star a 'non-runner' after her appearance at Clonmel last Thursday. Devine Star didn't take part in the race due to "starter error".

Devine Star was due to run in a maiden hurdle at a card that was eventually cancelled due to heavy fog. The starter began the race without the 80-1 shot who had reportedly taken some time to pull up on her way to the start. By the time she emerged out of the fog and got there the race had begun.

The stewards on the day enquired into the matter after it was made known to them only after the ‘winner all right’ signal that Devine Star hadn’t taken part. The matter was then referred to IHRB headquarters.

On Tuesday the IHRB confirmed, using their powers under Rule 22, they had deemed Devine Star a non-runner. Rule 22 refers to powers “in cases of emergency or expediency to modify or to suspend any rule or regulation”.

Graineyhill was an easy 14-length winner at that Clonmel fixture and he will be a major fancy to follow up under a 6lb penalty at Fairyhouse on Wednesday.

Gordon Elliott’s runner has topweight in a handicap hurdle but has over a half a stone in hand on official figures.

Elliott can also score in the bumper with the newcomer Tintangle while his rival Willie Mullins introduces another French import, Saldier, in the opening maiden.

Fairyhouse inspection

Fairyhouse will have to pass an 8.00 morning inspection for Wednesday’s card to go ahead. There is a threat of heavy overnight snow showers. The track is currently raceable and the track manager Peter Roe said on Tuesday evening: “I’m too long in the game to say I’m confident we’ll be fine but I’m very, very hopeful.”

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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