Venture seeking Clonmel victory
Philip Fenton is confident Venture Capital will give a good account of himself in what promises to be an informative Surehaul Mercedes-Benz Novice Hurdle at Clonmel on Thursday.
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The Fairyhouse bumper winner made an impressive start to his hurdling career at Wexford in early December and was far from disgraced when second behind leading Grand National hope Prince De Beauchene in a conditions event at Limerick over the Christmas period.
The JP McManus-owned six-year-old returns to novice company for his latest start in what is a fascinating Grade Three contest.
"He's in good form and hopefully he'll run a big race," said Fenton.
"I'd imagine the ground is going to ride very heavy, but we can't do anything about that and we'll see what happens.
"I was very satisfied with his run the last day and we're hoping there will be a bit more improvement to come once he gets on a bit better ground.
"He has entries in Cheltenham, but they are just entries at the moment and we'll get tomorrow out of the way first."
The likely favourite for the two-mile-six-furlong test is the Willie Mullins-trained Inish Island.
The former Dessie Hughes inmate made a winning debut for the champion trainer at Downpatrick in November and then chased home At Fishers Cross in a Cheltenham handicap a month later, form which looks very strong in light of the winner's subsequent exploits.
Patrick Griffin is looking forward to saddling Maggio, with James Reveley travelling over from England for the ride.
Following back-to-back wins at Kelso, the eight-year-old had to make do with the runner-up spot on his latest appearance at Newcastle.
"He's fine and I'm hoping if he doesn't win, he'll push the winner all the way," said Griffin.
"He should see out the trip well and I just hope the ground isn't too bad for him.
"He's a tricky customer, but James has found the key to him, so it's great he's coming over.
"We'll take our chance and see what happens."
Gordon Elliott's Shrapnel has every chance at the ratings, while the seven-runner field is completed by Whispering Hills, Dushybeag and Quarryvale.