By Michael O’Leary
Thyestes Day in Gowran Park is one of the most prestigous days on the Racing Calendar and has a long standing tradition since The Thyestes Chase was first run in 1954.
It’s a very special day in Gowran Village as each year – apart from the Covid Enforced Regulations in 2021 where the meeting took place behind closed doors – people from across the Country flock in their thousands to attend one of the major Race Days of the year.
It’s certainly one of the biggest One-Day Meetings in the Racing Year, and for many it’s an unofficial Bank Holiday Day and the first Social Day out since the Christmas Holidays which certainly helps erase The sadness of Christmas ending.
The Thyestes has produced an illustrious roll of honour with the most famous winners back in the mid 1960s with Arkle(1964) and Flyingbolt (1966) landing the spoils, both trained by Tom Dreaper.
Arkle’s victory in 1964 was a stepping stone to further glory as in March of that same year, he won the first of his three Cheltenham Gold Cups in succession (1964-1966) on his way to becoming one of the greatest horses of all time.
Flyingbolt added The Two-Mile Champion Chase and Irish Grand National to his Thyestes Triumph in the same year (1966) in a golden era for Tom Dreaper who was blessed to have two legendary racehorses.
In the Mid 2000s, Two subsequent Aintree Grand National winners would emerge victorious courtesy of Hedgehunter(2004) and Numbersixvalverde(2005).
Hedgehunter who won The Thyestes in 2004 went on to give Willie Mullins his sole Aintree National Triumph a year later in 2005, while Numbersixvalverde would acheive Double National glory after prevailing in a thrilling photo finish from Kymandgen in The 2005 Thyestes Chase.
Trained by Martin Brassil, Ruby Walsh was onboard to land The Irish National who won in a close finish from Jack High who was trained by Ruby’s Dad Ted.
The following year in 2006, Niall “Slippers” Madden partnered Numbersixvalverde to win The Aintree National with Hedgehunter filling the runner-up spot, while last year Longhouse Poet gave Martin Brassil his 2nd Thyestes Triumph with Darragh O’Keeffe on board.
Longhouse Poet won over Hurdles at The Limerick Christmas Festival, which undoubtedly was a prep run ahead of a repeat attempt to win The Thyestes next Thursday.
No doubt last years Thyestes winner will attempt to emulate the feat of Numbersixvalverde in April and try to win The Aintree showpiece also.
If he does line-up next Thursday, he will be attempting to follow in the footsteps of Wylde Hide(1995 and 1996), Bob Treacy (1999 and 2001), Priests Leap(2008 and 2009), and 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup Runner-up On His Own(2012 and 2014) who all won The Thyestes Twice.
Willie Mullins has been the most successful Thyestes winning trainer having won The Gowran feature on 8 occassions with 6 different Jockeys, and unquestionably will have a strong fancy in this years renewal to try and add to his tally.
The sequence began in 2000, when Jason Titley was aboard Mickos Dream to give The Clareman his Second Thyestes Triumph following victory aboard The Harry De Bromhead (Dad of Henry) Trained Grand Habit in 1992.
Further victories followed courtesy of Hedgehunter under David Casey in 2004, before Homer Wells with Davy Condon onboard gave The Champion Trainer his Third Thyestes win in 2007.
From 2012 onwards, The Closutton native began to dominate as he trained the winner of The Gowran feature on 5 occassions between 2012 and 2020.
On His Own gave David Casey his Third Thyestes victory in 2012(He also won aboard The Charlie Swan Trained This Is Serious in 2002), before repeating the feat two years later in 2014.
12 months later in 2015, Djakadam with Ruby Walsh onboard defied top weight of 11-10 in thick fog on Heavy Ground to run out a very impressive winner to give Willie his 6th Thyestes success.
Djakadam would go onto Grade 1 success by winning The Durkan Chase in 2015 and 2016, while also finishing runner-up twice in The Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same year.
Ruby and Willie combined for further Thyestes glory with Invitation Only in 2019, while 12 months later in 2020, Gowran native Danny Mullins was on board Total Recall to give his Uncle an 8th Thyestes Triumph.
At time of writing, it’s not known who will line up in next Thursday’s feature race, but expect the 8 Times winning Trainer to have a strong hand and be well represented in what is a competitive renewal.
The Big Dog has won two featured Handicaps this season, The Munster National adnd Troytown Chase and ran a cracker under Top Weight to finish Third in The Welsh National at Christmas.
If lining up next Thursday, Peter Faheys charge will certainly have a major chance and he has previously won on Thyestes Day having won what is now The Connolly’s Red Mills Ladies Hurdle back in 2019.
The supporting card on Thyestes Day is led by The Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle that has produced a number of top class winners over the years.
Among the winners on The Roll of Honour list are 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner War of Attrition who won The race in 2010, Twice Cheltenham Festival winner Presenting Percy who won in 2018 and 2019, while The Willie Mullins trained Benie Des Dieux won in 2020 having won The Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2018.
Last years race was won by Royal Kahala ahead of Home By The Lee and Ashdale Bob, with the latter duo fighting out the finish of The Grade 1 Jack De Bromhead Christmas Hurdle at The Leopardstown Christmas Festival.
Both Home By The Lee and Ashdale Bob may line-up again next Thursday, while don’t rule out the possibility of The Willie Mullins trained Klassical Dream lining up also.
The 5-times Grade 1 winner was a disappointing favourite when finishing 4th in the race last year.
Elsewhere, the action commences with The Langtons Kilkenny Handicap Hurdle followed by The Connolly’s Red Mills Ladies Hurdle.
Also on The Card, there is The Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle in which Gowran Man Jimmy Barcoe Trained Allez Kal to victory in 2019, while The penultimate race is a Beginners Steeplechase sponsored by Daly Farrell Chartered Accountants in Friary Street, Kilkenny.
Two years ago in 2021, The Daly Farrell Chartered Accountants Beginners Steeplechase was won by The Locally Owned and Tom Foley Trained Rebel Gold and it was a very poignant success, as it was The Trainers Final winner before he passed away a month later.
Tom’s Son Patrick took over The Training License afterwards and last Saturday in Fairyhouse, he enjoyed his biggest victory to date with Rebel Gold as he ran out a very impressive winner of The Dan Moore Handicap Steeplechase.
The Concluding Bumper will more than likely see Willie and Patrick Mullins have a strongly fancied, while don’t rule out Mags Mullins having a contender at her Local Track considering her good strike rate in Bumpers.
Another great days Racing to look forward to on what is always one of the highlights on the Racing Calendar.