Runner-by-runner guide to the Randox Ulster National at Downpatrick

Sun 22 Mar 2020

The €50,000 Randox Ulster National Handicap Chase is the feature race on Sunday’s card at Downpatrick.

Live on Racing TV at 3.10pm, past winners of the extended three miles and four furlong event include subsequent Grand National winner Pineau De Re in 2013 and old favourite Federici in 2016.

Fifteen runners will go to post for Sunday’s renewal. He’s our runner-by-runner guide.


Age: 6 Trainer: Noel Meade Odds: 16/1 Rating: 2 (out of a possible 5)

An emphatic winner at Galway in May in testing conditions, he subsequently disappointed when well-beaten in the Cork Grand National in November over a similar distance to Sunday’s test. Given the concerns surrounding his ability to stay the trip and his relative inexperience over fences having had just four starts over the larger obstacles, he is opposable.


Age: 6 Trainer: Gavin Cromwell Odds: 8/1 Rating: 4

Put in his best performance to date when denying Treacysenniscorthy a five-timer in a novice handicap chase at Navan with a smooth success under Conor Maxwell. He clearly handled the heavy ground on that occasions and ran on strongly towards the line, suggesting this longer trip could be well within his compass. He lacks experience and that was his first victory in six starts for Cromwell. However, he wasn’t disgraced in beginners’ chase events when mid-division behind Minella Indo and Allaho respectively earlier on this term and he has an attractive profile.


Age: 8 Trainer: Gordon Elliott Odds: 11/2 Rating: 1.25

One of six runners for Cullentra trainer Gordon Elliott. Gun Digger bounced back to form with victory at Leopardstown last time under rising star Gavin Brouder. That was the gelding’s first win since 2018 and Elliott reported to the stewards that the race fell apart a little which helped him return to winning form. That hardly augurs hope that he has definitely rekindled his love for the game and on his three starts over marathon trip he has fell and been pulled-up twice.


Age: 11 Trainer: Gordon Elliott Odds: 10/1 Rating: 2

Another of the Elliott sextet who is targeting a first win since the 2018 Irish Grand National. In a chequered career since, he has hinted at a slight revival in his last two starts, latterly when fourth in the Leinster National. Previously also fourth in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown in February, he has the attributes to run into a place, but given his advancing years, he could be susceptible to one of the more progressive types in this race despite having the services of talented 5lb claimer Sean O’Keeffe.


Age: 7 Trainer: James Daniel Dullea Odds: 14/1 Rating: 2.75

Has the services of Danny Mullins who steered Pineau De Re to glory in the 2013 edition. Rocky’s Silver has enjoyed a good season with two victories in six starts, latterly when scoring over an extended three miles and one furlong at Punchestown in January. However, despite market support, he disappointed when pulled-up in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown in February. Having travelled into contention, he made a litany of mistakes on the final circuit which put paid to his chances. With concerns about his jumping and whether he truly wants a stamina-laden test such as this, he is opposable.


Age: 7 Trainer: Keith Watson Odds: 12/1 Rating: 3

A fascinating contender given he won last year’s renewal under a fine ride by Andrew Ring. The son of Saint Des Saint has been disappointing in three runs since and warmed up for his title defence with an 11th placed finish over an inadequate trip at Navan last time out. That was his first run since August and given he is only a seven-year-old with surely more improvement to come, that may have left him spot on for this event. Conversely, the positives are outweighed by the negatives, chiefly that most of his best form has come on better ground, whilst he is also 8lb higher in the weights this time around.


Age: 10 Trainer: Gordon Elliott Odds: 5/1 Rating: 4

The pick of Elliott’s six-pronged assault. The 10-year-old has yet to finish out of the placings in four runs for him and finished a fine third in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown in February, even if his stamina looked to ebb close home. A good second since in the Leinster National, he boasts a solid profile and must make any shortlist. However, he was caught in the closing stages that day and one slight concern is his poor win record. He has hit the scoresheet just three times in a 36-race career with the last of those victories coming in September 2016. Therefore, whilst he looks a great place bet, he is liable to finding one too good.


Age: 8 Trainer: Gordon Elliott Odds: 11/1 Rating: 3.75

Represents Presenting Percy’s owner Philip Reynolds and targets a first win since September 2018. His form over fences is pretty consistent having finished in the first three on four of his starts over the larger obstacles. This is his first start over fences since finishing a well-beaten 15th in last year’s Kim Muir, but Davy Russell is an eye-catching booking and he has some strong form in his back catalogue. Clearly, the chief concern is whether he will get the trip, but he looks a horse essentially saved for a race of this nature and is of interest.


Age: 11 Trainer: Gordon Elliott Odds: 12/1 Rating: 1

A real stalwart for the Elliott team who targets a first win since the Cork Grand National in November, 2018. He ran a cracker to finish third to Easysland in the Cross Country at Cheltenham Festival last week and seems to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the discipline. A well-beaten sixth in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown in February prior to The Festival, his Cheltenham exertions might just catch up with him.


Age: 7 Trainer: Willie Mullins Odds: 9/2 favourite Rating: 5

A horse who holds the strongest formline in the race. The daughter of Westerner had seven of today’s field behind her when recording a last gasp success in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown in February. That was her best performance over fences and she seemed to relish the step up in trip, getting up in the final strides to deny Agusta Gold. An 8lb rise clearly demands more of her and Paul Townend takes over this time around. It looks telling that she is Willie Mullins’ only runner in the race and given her handling of testing conditions, she makes plenty of appeal.


Age: 10 Trainer: Gearoid O’Loughlin Odds: 18/1 Rating: 0.5

Very talented in his younger years, his back catalogue includes placed-efforts in the Leinster National and Thyestes Chase. The 10-year-old seemed to relish pointing with two victories in as many starts earlier this season and was a good fourth in the Troytown in November. However, he had plenty to do when falling in the aforementioned Grand National Trial at Punchestown in February and was a well-beaten fifth in the Leinster National last time out. He looks on the downgrade and is hard to fancy.


Age: 9 Trainer: Philip Rothwell Odds: 28/1 Rating: 0.25

Very hard to fancy in current form given he has been pulled-up in two starts for his new trainer. Having formerly achieved a career-high rating of 135, he has slipped down to a mark of 120 and has only won once in eight starts which tempers any enthusiasm for his chances in this event.


Age: 9 Trainer: Gordon Elliott Odds: 20/1 Rating: 0.5

A fascinating runner given two years ago he romped to victory in this event by six and a half-lengths returning the extremely well-supported 11/4 favourite. However, his form has taken a complete dive since with a shred of hope nowhere to be seen. He is extremely difficult to fancy despite his winning form in the race and the bookmakers seem to agree making him one of the outsiders of the field.


Age: 11 Trainer: Lesley Young Odds: 10/1 Rating: 3.75

A stalwart for connections who has seven of his 36 starts. He has been in good heart with two wins from three runs under Rules, which included a smooth success in a veterans’ event at Navan last time out. He travelled stylishly into contention and put the race to bed nicely. He definitely has claims in this race and he has plenty of form on soft and heavy ground. However, the only major concern would be that Capacurry Zak’s only start over a similar distance saw him finish eighth in the 2018 Grand National Trial at Punchestown. He therefore still needs to prove his stamina credentials for this marathon test.


Age: 8 Trainer: Stuart Crawford Odds: 12/1 Rating: 2

Talented when trained by Paul Nicholls, Coastal Tiep was a fine fourth in the Fonxhunters’ Chase over the Grand National fences last season and was a good third behind subsequent Foxhunter second Billaway at Naas in a hunter chase in January. However, he is being pitched firmly back into the deep end here and a watching brief is advised.


Ifyoucatchmenow makes plenty of appeal for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend. She holds the key form to this race having beaten half of the field on her latest start. An 8lb rise demands more but she looks to have all the right credentials for an event like this.

Cheb De Kerviniou has run four fine races in defeat this term and looks to have solid place claims. However, the biggest danger could be Jimmil who is progressing with every run and was very impressive at Navan last time out when giving the impression he would enjoy the step up in trip.

1 Ifyoucatchmenow. 2 Jimmi. 3 Cheb De Kerviniou

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