Clonmel Oil Chase preview: Monalee appeals most

Published on: November 13, 2019
Author: Jamie Clark
This 2019 Clonmel Oil Chase preview includes Monalee (far side, jumping fence)

Trainer Henry De Bromhead knows what it takes to win the Clonmel Oil Chase, so Monalee looks worth a wager in the feature extended 2m 4f Grade 2 contest on Thursday (14:50).

The eight-year-old son of Milan has a fine record over this trip and is a consistent performer at this level.

Monalee won his chase bow at Punchestown two years ago, then lowered the colours of subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo in the Grade 1 Flogas at Leopardstown.

He was then far from disgraced when chasing home Presenting Percy in the 2018 RSA Chase.

Although Monalee only got his head in front once last season, that victory came over roughly this distance in the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park.

The runner-up, Anibale Fly, went on to again place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, so the form is good.

You can also say the same about Monalee chasing home subsequent Punchestown Gold Cup victor Kemboy at Leopardstown last Christmas.

As he was also far from disgraced when fourth to Frodon in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham and beaten just over five lengths, this is his easiest assignment for some time.

Monalee won’t mind the testing ground either. With handler De Bromhead and jockey Rachael Blackmore both among the winners of late, he is 6/4 with Boylesports to resume winning ways.

Is returning Douvan the force of old?

Prior to a series of injuries, the top rated Douvan had the world at his feet.

He makes his comeback following 569 days on the sidelines for trainer Willie Mullins and owners Rich and Susannah Ricci here.

Now a nine-year-old, Douvan was rated 174 at his peak after winning his first nine starts over fences.

He was unbeaten in 13 for County Carlow handler Mullins, who has saddled four of the last six Clonmel Oil Chase winners.

Douvan’s problems began in the 2017 Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham. He reached for the third fence and wasn’t fluent at the next jump.

As Douvan also hit three out and was soon outpaced before finding little to finish seventh, something was clearly amiss.

Connections later reported him lame and the son of Walk In The Park missed a year of action. A return in the same race 12 months later was going well enough until Douvan came down four out.

He was travelling strongly and proved no worse for that tumble when runner-up to stable companion Un De Sceaux in the 2018 Punchestown Champion Chase.

That was the last we saw of Douvan on the track, however. He has had just two races in over two-and-a-half years and, although crack trainer Mullins has brought horses back from longer layoffs, this isn’t easy on his first try over 2m 4f.

Douvan’s back form – including eight Grade 1s and two Cheltenham Festival successes – and record at this slightly lower level commands him the utmost respect. He’s also 8lb well-in to the Clonmel Oil Chase on adjusted ratings.

Despite those favourable race terms Douvan odds of 7/4 with William Hill are opposed, because he has to prove his stamina and given the amount of time he’s been out of action.

Doubts about rest of Clonmel Oil Chase field

Just three other horses are declared for the race and the forecast soft, heavy in places going isn’t ideal for any of them.

It suits Peter Fahey trained runner Peregrine Run the least, but like Douvan he gets weight from the others.

Tout Est Permis scored twice on a testing service for Mouse Morris and won his first three starts for current trainer Noel Meade last season.

Although the first two were in handicap company, the six-year-old Gigginstown House Stud owned gelding completed his hat-trick by going in at this level.

He justified favouritism when getting up on the line and denying Sub Lieutenant by a short-head at Thurles.

Tout Est Permis was then far from disgraced when eighth in the Irish Grand National over a marathon 3m 5f trip at Fairyhouse.

Dropping back in distance again after coming a moderate third in the 3m 1f Grade 3 Irish Daily Star Chase at Punchestown on reappearance is a plus.

Sean Flanagan, who is three from four rides on Tout Est Permis, is back aboard too. He could come on for that run and the grey son of Linda’s Lad is preferred to the inconsistent Jessica Harrington trained Jett.

Tout Est Permis is 9/1 with Betway here. Jett has only won two of his last 15 starts, so is far from certain to follow-up on his Grade 3 victory last time out.

With reasons to oppose the rest of the field, Monalee appeals most for this renewal of the Clonmel Oil Chase.