There are no shortage of runners at Downpatrick on Sunday with five of the seven races on the card featuring maximum 15-runner fields.
The showpiece race is the €50,000 Randox Ulster National Handicap Chase, featuring the past two winners of the contest in Amaulino and Poorman Hill.
It’s a trappy card for punting purposes but the action is unlikely to disappoint, with Downpatrick's tight turns and undulating nature usually helping to provide plenty of excitement. Here’s a guide to each of the races.
1.40 Connolly's Red Mills Irish European Breeders Fund Auction Maiden Hurdle
The race to focus on here could be the 2m maiden hurdle run at Fairyhouse last month in which Barnaviddaun (second), Hesamanofhisword (third) and I’m So Busy (fourth) chased home Funky Dady.
I’M SO BUSY was making his debut and came from further back than those who finished in front of him. Open to plenty of improvement, he could well turn the tables on those who finished ahead in front of him.
All About Joe has shown enough ability to win a race of this nature but is dropping in trip. Vinnie Is Busy has shown ability in bumpers and also enters calculations.
Selection: I'm So Busy at 15-2 with Bet Victor
2.10 Wkd Rated Hurdle
It will be interesting to see what the market makes of WAJAAHA, who landed a gamble with ease in a 20-runner handicap at Leopardstown last time.
This is a tougher ask but the five-year-old won with any amount in hand and can make the most of the weight her receives from his principal market rivals.
The Very Man rates an obvious threat after winning with a bit to spare at Naas last time and his stablemate, Road To Dubai, a scorer at Perth six months ago, will also be a threat if ready to pick up from where he left off.
Momus, pipped a nose at Down Royal last time, is equipped with first-time blinkers and looks the pick of the remainder.
Selection: Wajaahy at a general 3-1
2.40 Racing TV Handicap Hurdle (Turf)
The lightly raced SILK WORM (nap) is interesting back up in trip and switched to handicaps.
He ran better than the bare form suggests when fifth to Funky Dady in a maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse last time and, with more to come, a mark of 99 may underestimate him.
Bread And Butter upped his game when runner-up at Gowran last time. He would have given the winner even more to think about with some cleaner leaps in the closing stages and is only 3lb higher.
Kilmurry, fourth in a big field at Fairyhouse last time, is entitled to again be on the premises, while Severus Alexander has age on his side and remains well-in relative to his Flat form.
Hell On Earth has not always looked a battler and is now equipped with first-time cheekpieces.
Selection: Silk Worm at 10-1 with bet365
3.10 Randox Ulster National Handicap Chase
The feature race is competitive, with the Grand National Trial ran at Punchestown over a similar trip in the mud at Punchestown last month likely to have a bearing.
Ifyoucatchmenow kept on stoutly to take the spoils that day with Cheb De Kerviniou (third), General Principle (fourth), Out Sam (sixth), Space Cadet (a faller) and Gun Digger (pulled up) among the support cast. The unexposed winner may confirm his superiority, despite an 8lb rise, but he’s not been missed in the betting and preference is for THE RED MENACE.
Noel Meade’s charge has been off since a subdued effort at Cork in early November but he had been progressive before that and on several occasions shaped as if this stamina test will play to his strengths. Eoin Walsh is good value for his 7lb claim and eases his burden.
Recent Navan winner Jimmil will be a threat if this does not come too soon, while Its All Guesswork will be helped if the ground continues to dry. The past two winners of the race, Amaulino and Poorman Hill, add further depth.
Selection: The Red Menace at a general 16-1
3.40 Tote Supporting Downpatrick Racecourse Handicap Chase
These all arrive here either out of sorts or with something to prove and THE TRIGGER can only be a tentative selection.
He had looked to be going through the motions until finishing a creditable third to Oscar Ceremony at Musselburgh last time. That form looks solid enough with the winner subsequently following up and the runner-up again going close at Ayr next time.
Moreover, The Trigger is able to race off a 13lb lower mark back on “home” soil and Eoin Walsh looks a 7lb claimer going places.
Golden Sunset, a ready winner at Down Royal on his penultimate start, and the unpredictable Stougham Cross, reunited with Oakley Brown, are others to ponder.
Selection: The Trigger at a general 10-1
4.10 Boardsmill Sires Maiden Hunters Chase
Not a race that makes much appeal as a betting medium.
COMPLETE SIZING’s two starts under Rules have not gone to script but he’s lost only one of his five points – when beaten half a length by Straidnahanna at Kildorrey last time – and will have the assistance of Jamie Codd.
On The Sod, unbeaten in three points, has his first start under Rules and rates a bigger threat than Heydour, who ended up beating other finisher in a point at Cragmore last month.
Holycross Lito folded tamely at Clonmel last time after attracting support – a race in which Complete Sizing was a faller – but he is five from seven in points and probably capable of better.
Selection: Complete Sizing at a general 5-2
4.40 Molson Coors (Pro/Am) Flat Race
A few fingers were burnt when BALLYADAM fluffed his lines on his Rules debut at Navan last month.
The Fame And Glory gelding, who changed hands for £330,000 as a four-year-old, had impressed when winning his sole starts in point-to-points and was prominent in the ante-post betting for the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham before his debut.
However, he was unable to pick up in the closing stages and could finish only a close third behind Julies Stowaway, who himself went on to finish seventh at Cheltenham. It was still an encouraging start, though, and he will be hard to beat here with the obvious threat is Yousayitbest being a non-runner.
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