Unfavourable forecast forces Thurles to inspect this morning


TOMORROW'S MEETING at Thurles will have to pass a 9am inspection this morning if it is to go ahead. Officials were forced to bring the inspection forward due to an unfavourable weather forecast

Irish Turf Club press officer Cliff Noone said: "The chase course at Thurles was found to be unfit for racing and as a consequence the two chases have been abandoned. One of the other five remaining races will be divided to form a six-race programme."

Kelso's meeting on Friday appears to offer the first realistic chance of any jump racing in Britain this week, with all the other fixtures falling victim to the cold. Both Musselburgh and Fontwell's cards for today were frozen off more than a day in advance, Kempton made an early decision to abandon National Hunt racing for Saturday and there are plenty of further inspections planned.

There has only been all-weather Flat action in Britain since Folkestone raced last Friday.

The only positive note came from Musselburgh clerk of the course Anthea Morshead, who is also responsible for Kelso. She said: "I'm hopeful for Friday at Kelso, it is supposed to be milder by the end of the week." Tomorrow's prospects for Hereford and Catterick are not encouraging, with officials at the former virtually conceding defeat already.

Hereford clerk of the course Katie Stephens explained: "The chances are very slim. "We are inspecting at 8am tomorrow morning and we'll need a miracle to run. It was minus eight last night, it's minus two at the moment and down to minus seven again tonight."

TOM COOPER is eyeing a tilt at the Arkle Perpetual Challenge Cup at Leopardstown for his stable star Forpadydeplasterer.

The Grade One-winning novice hurdler has made a fine start to his career over the larger obstacles, scoring on his reappearance at Punchestown before chasing home Trafford Lad in the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.

He was forced to miss the Durkan New Homes Novice Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas due to a stone bruise but his Co Kerry trainer is happy with his recent work. "Unfortunately, he had to miss the race over Christmas but he is fine again now and back in full work," said Cooper.

"We are still playing it by ear on his best trip. He ran well in the Drinmore over two and a half and he was maybe just outstayed by Trafford Lad. Our horse has got plenty of pace so I would say at this stage we are leaning towards the Arkle with him.

"He seems in good form with himself at home and all being well, he'll go to Leopardstown next."

NEWMILL WILL be required to carry top weight should John Murphy let his charge take his chance in Sunday's Pierse Hurdle at Leopardstown. The two-mile event is one of the most competitive handicap hurdles in the Irish calendar and has drawn 37 entries.

Newmill is not likely to be among the major fancies as although he has very decent form over timber, in his recent runs over fences he has looked a long way inferior to the horse who won the 2006 Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Likely to be of more interest are representatives from Tony Martin. His Psycho - an agonising second in last year's County Hurdle - could represent the canny trainer along with recent Cork winner Robin Du Bois and Mourne Rambler, who was down the field in The Ladbroke last time.

The sole British raider is set to be the Richard Fahey-trained Bolodenka, who was second at Musselburgh last time.

Noel Meade's Sky Hall, Jessica Harrington's novice Alpine Eagle and a handful from Willie Mullins in Imperial Hills, Sesenta, Mullach Na Si and Deutschland may also figure.

SILENT OSCAR, off the track since winning at the Punchestown Festival in 2007, is on course to return to the track in the Toshiba Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on January 25th.

The 10-year-old caused a surprise when beating the likes of Macs Joy, Hardy Eustace and Harchibald in the ACCBank Champion Hurdle, but has been sidelined by injury since.

Trainer Harry Rogers reports him to be working as well as ever at home and is just keeping his fingers crossed everything continues to go to plan ahead of his comeback. "He's in at Leopardstown at the end of the month and if he is fit enough he will be there," said Rogers.

"I don't want to say he is a definite runner just yet but everything is going the right way with him. He's stepped up in his work now and is cantering away nicely and we will just see how he is in another two weeks."

"He seems to be as good as ever at home and all being well he will go to Leopardstown and the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham would also be a target."

Silent Oscar is 20 to 1 for the race with Ladbrokes.