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Down Royal Preview And Betting Tips

Down Royal Preview And Betting Tips

Down Royal's premier jumps meeting of the year is held this weekend, with Saturday's main event featuring the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Champion Chase as its feature contest at 2.25. Beef Or Salmon and Kauto Star are amongst the previous winners of a race established in 1999 and Road To Respect has won the two most recent renewals for trainer Noel Meade. Down Royal's seven-race card (12.40-4.10) features plenty quality jumps and the Racing Post return with their betting preview and tips for what should be a thrilling day of racing.



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12.40 - Metcollect 3-Y-O Hurdle (2m½f)

Not the most competitive three-year-old hurdle to launch the card, but one in which Gordon Elliott seems very likely to be the dominant force as he accounts for two of the five runners in QUILIXIOS and Glorious Zoff.

Both were easy winners over hurdles lately on their first starts for this powerful yard and it is French import Quilixios that is preferred.

The Cheveley Park Stud-owned gelding made short work of a hurdles race at Compiegne in March and it was a similar tale at Punchestown this month (2m, yielding) where he strung the field out behind, including fairly solid yardstick Scholastic. He's got a bright future and should be taking this under Jack Kennedy.

Rated 74 on the Flat with Charlie Hills, Glorious Zoff had no problems accounting for market leader Crassus in a Sligo maiden hurdle (2m1½f, yielding) last week and should give his stablemate a race, while Killarney maiden hurdle winner Varna Gold should be too good for the pair of hurdling newcomers Na Caith Tobac and Anjician.

Selection: Quilixios

Next Best: Glorious Zoff

 

1.15 - Tayto Group Maiden Hurdle (2m½f)

It could well be a quick double on the card for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy here with BALLYADAM, once more in the Cheveley Park silks.

The Cullentra handler used this contest 12 months ago to launch the hurdles career of Envoi Allen and will bid to win again for the same ownership, now firmly making a mark in the National Hunt sphere.

This son of Fame And Glory won his point-to-point a year ago at Portrush before joining current connections.

He was turned over on rules bow in a bumper at Navan in February (raced too keenly on heavy ground) but made amends the following month with a facile soft-ground win at Downpatrick (2m1½f). He's another bright prospect for connections and, given this race as his target, should be ready to go.

He's certainly unlikely to get things all his own way today though and Colonel Mustard and He's A Hardy Bloke rate as two alternatives that may look to spoil the part for the likely market leader.

Conor Orr's mount was second in a decent Killarney bumper in August behind a Willie Mullins hotpot (form working out well) and has since made no mistake at Punchestown. He's got a chance with his rider claiming a handy 5lb on hurdling introduction.

December point-to-point winner He's A Hardy Bloke is well-named as he has at times looked a bit headstrong in bumpers but he opened his account at Clonmel earlier this month and represents a Noel Meade/Sean Flanagan team that typically does well at this meeting/track.

Selection: Ballyadam

Next Best: Colonel Mustard

1.50 - WKD Handicap Hurdle (Grade B, 2m½f)

A deep field and this should be competitive stuff. 2018-winner Golden Spear lurks on the same mark of 127 for Tony Martin now and while he hasn't sparkled over hurdles this year, his best efforts on the Flat certainly suggest he could be capable of a big run.

The likes of Ten Ten, top-weight Ex Patriot and Thereisnodoubt make appeal on paper but the trio all come here lacking a recent run and that could be a negative.

That's not the case for WOLF PRINCE, the Gavin Cromwell-trained youngster having run a fine third at Gowran Park (1m6f, soft to heavy) on the Flat this month.

That was his first start since finishing second-best in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival in February.

The four-year-old is now stepping into the ring with older performers but a mark of 136 affords him a chance and he should be an each-way option.

Drop The Anchor just held off Getaway Gorgeous to win at Listowel last month but it might be a different story now with Willie Mullins' mare still on the improve and these revised terms in her favour.

She was behind The Very Man previously at Galway and they remain well matched, with the Gigginstown runner likely to leave behind a poor run in Grade 3 company at Tipperary most recently.

Selection: Wolf Prince

Next Best: Getaway Gorgeous

 

2.25 - Ladbrokes Champion Chase (Grade 1, 3m)

Delta Work is top-rated and his staying on fifth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup is the strongest form on offer, with Chris's Dream behind in tenth and Presenting Percy a faller when making up good ground at two out in the same contest.

A peak-fitness Delta Work would be hard to oppose, and he'll likely achieve most from this field as the season wears on, but his record first time out isn't all that inspiring and he was a well-held fourth of five in this contest a year ago.

Presenting Percy is most interesting having joined the ranks at Gordon Elliott's yard since that Gold Cup fall. Owner Philip Reynolds clearly feels Elliott can work some magic and the Cheltenham run strongly hints the fire still burns in what remains a relatively lightly-raced nine-year-old.

A big run under Denis O'Regan for the first time wouldn't come as any kind of surprise and 'Percy' is more than capable of bringing excellent form on the first day back at school.

So, too, is CHRIS'S DREAM and Henry De Bromhead may be mindful this might be the best opportunity to snare a Grade 1 prize with him.

He gave weight and a beating to his rivals in the usually very competitive Troytown at Navan (3m, soft) on his comeback last season and won the Grade 2 Redmills at Gowran Park (2m4f, heavy) on his only other start before Cheltenham. This might be the big day for Robbie Power's mount.

The Storyteller is in rude health and will take advantage should the big guns misfire, but this particular Elliott runner has found that things that bit tougher amongst Grade 1 chasers in the past.

If there's to be a shock winner then look no further than 2018 Ryanair Chase hero Balko Des Flos for De Bromhead and Rachel Blackmore.

His form over the previous 12-18 months gives him questions to answer, for certain, but he's had a recent pipe-opener in fourth behind The Storyteller at Punchestown and could sneak a place if rediscovering himself.

Selection: Chris's Dream

Next Best: Presenting Percy

3.00 - Lough Construction Ltd. Chase (Grade 2, 2m3½f)

This Grade 2 is billed as a match between Easy Game and SAMCRO, an early season battle between the Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott camps with just shy of ?36k on offer to the winner.

Easy Game is 3-6 over fences and comes here after wins at Tramore and Gowran Park since August, comfortably dispatching The Storyteller over 2m4f this month (that rival contests the preceding Grade 1 on the card).

He's on the improve for sure but was outbattled by veteran stablemate and all-round legend Faugheen over this trip at Leopardstown in the spring.

Samcro of course was beaten by the same Faugheen at Limerick over Christmas on testing ground after having made a winning chase bow over this C&D in November with great ease.

He appeared to be going best subsequently when he crashed out in the Grade 1 Drinmore as he was apparently stalking the smart Fakir D'oudairies.

The doubters circled following the Christmas reversal but a wind operation and a break worked the oracle and he produced a flying finish to win the Marsh Novices' Chase (2m4f, soft) at the Cheltenham Festival on the nod from Melon, with Faugheen a length away in third spot.

So long has he been a hyped horse, it's very easy to forget that Samcro is but an eight-year-old with 15 runs under rules (nine wins) behind him.

He still may not be 'the second coming' as his owner Michael O'Leary famously proclaimed in the past, but he is most definitely a second-season chaser with lots to look forward to and he can launch this term with a win at Down Royal.

His stablemate Battleoverdoyen goes well fresh and should prove best of the remainder, despite this intermediate trip probably being just shy of what he truly wants distance-wise.

Selection: Samcro

Next Best: Easy Game

 

3.35 - Rainbow Communications Handicap Chase (3m)

Paranoid made a winning start for Gordon Elliott at Galway this month after a season in the doldrums previously and, rated only 2lb back over fences today, he's got to be respected.

He did rather have the run of the race at Ballybrit last time and is likely to be short enough in the market this afternoon.

His stablemate Cuneo has had just the one run since joining the Elliott squad too and cannot be discounted going into a handicap over fences for the first time.

The front-running Touch Of Oscar scored at Navan (2m4f, good) last month and has twice shaped well in novice company since, he remains on a fair mark back into a handicap but Joseph O'Brien's charge does have a slight question mark over the three-mile trip.

ASKANN caught the eye at Fairyhouse (2m5f, yielding to soft in places) earlier this month on her first outing since March/handicap bow over fences. She was pushed along from four out and seemingly in bother, but did her best work late on in finishing third at the line.

From the same mark of 112 and with Simon Torrens able to take 5lb off her back, the mare is one to be interested in over this extended trip on that evidence.

Selection: Askann

Next Best: Touch Of Oscar

4.10 - Irish Stallion Farms EBF (Pro/Am) Flat Race (2m½f)

As it may begin, the day will seemingly end with a short-priced favourite for Gordon Elliott in the Cheveley Park silks as Jamie Codd partners SIR GERHARD on his rules bow.

The Jeremy gelding was far too strong for his rivals last winter in his sole point-to-point start before being snapped up by these powerful connections.

Three of the rivals that cried enough behind him at Boulta would win point-to-points subsequently and, at a track where Codd boasts a 26 per-cent five-year strike-rate, Sir Gerhard is tough to oppose in a contest the trainer/jockey won last year with Easywork.

Newcomer Kinnegad Lad represents a stable that does well in this sphere, while the presence of Patrick Mullins will draw attention to Gavin Cromwell's newcomer Vintage Prosseco.

They are worth noting, along with Noel Meade's debutant Night Combat and The Banger Doyle, twice placed in bumpers already and with similar aspirations here perhaps.

Selection: Sir Gerhard

Next Best: Vintage Prosseco

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