The Cheltenham Hunter Chase runner-up Billaway will make his much anticipated return to action on Sunday as he is one of 8 horses declared for the Thurles Racecourse Hunter Chase.
Unlucky to meet with narrow defeats in two of last year’s highlights – when a short-head behind Porlock Bay at Cheltenham and agonizingly that same distance behind Bob And Co in the Punchestown equivalent, Willie Mullins’ charge has not been seen since that defeat at the Punchestown Festival.
Now a ten-year-old, the Well Chosen gelding has skipped potential engagements at Fairyhouse, Boulta and Ballindenisk but much interest will surround his belated return to action as he is currently top-priced 4/1 favourite to go one place better in the Cheltenham Hunter Chase.
David Christie’s Winged Leader has also had a light campaign thus far in the season, the Winged Love gelding dead-heating with Mighty Stowaway on his re-appearance at Loughbrickland back in November, and the eight-year-old, who has already won three hunter chases, is among the chief dangers to the Cheltenham Festival runner-up.
Stand Up And Fight and Poli Roi both pulled-up at Down Royal over Christmas but are likely to face much better conditions at the Tipperary venue, with the ground on Friday described as Good to Yielding ahead of a dry weekend.
The field is completed by Warriors Tale, Vital Island and the maiden Hello Arlene.