STAR PREVIEW: Downpatrick Sunday

Racing from Downpatrick
Live on Racing TV from 1.30pm
First Race: Connolly’s RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle (off time 1.40pm)

Yesterday was a decent day, with Jetz bouncing back into the winning enclosure in great style and Crazyland running a fair race to be third. Sizing Pottsie was coming under pressure when he fell, and whilst the race was not over, he may have struggled with Zero Ten. Elsewhere on the card, Politesse looked like a useful mare in the opener and

A huge amount of gratitude ought to be extended to all those involved at Thurles for their operation, along with HRI for setting up an effective and safe practice, along with ITV for broadcasting the card in a tone that was entirely appropriate for the situation – hopefully we will make it to The Curragh and Meydan next week, which the channel will be carrying in another welcome move, assuming racing continues there.

Today we have another national hunt card, and a fine feature race in the shape of the Randox Ulster National (3.10). This renewal is really well contested, with a number of contenders bringing high class handicap chase form. The Grand National Trial at Punchestown is a key formline, with the first two in the betting – Ifyoucatchmenow and Cheb De Kerviniou – having finished first and third there.

Three lengths separated them that day, but the weights have them finishing level here and Cheb De Kerviniou could have been given the advantage here by the fact that Ifyoucatchmenow, who has gone up 8lbs for that hard fought win, doesn’t have the 5lbs claim of Conor McNamara here to aid him either. Now obviously there are few better than Paul Townend, but those extra pounds could make all the difference here in a good race.

The chief threats on paper are Jimmil, who is up 14lbs for an impressive win in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Handicap Chase Final, and Gun Digger, who had been woefully out of form before a return to his best in the TRI Equestrian Handicap Chase at Leopardstown last time.

That said, it would be unwise to rule out Amaulino, who won this last year in good style from an 8lbs lower mark, nor General Principle, who has run well in both the Grand National Trial and the Leinster National the last twice.

The opening Connolly’s RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle (1.40) is an intriguing contest where the first four in the markets all make the same amount of appeal. The WKD Rated Hurdle (2.10) is also a well contested event but The Very Man stands out. Gordon Elliott’s charge looked to relish the step up in trip when taking a maiden hurdle at Naas in fine style and previously he’d bumped into a subsequent winner at Navan in the shape of Francis. He’s got to give weight to the very impressive Leopardstown winner Wajaaha, but the form of his past two efforts looks strong enough to do so and it’s entirely possible he’s got more to give as well. Elliott’s second string Texard, who took what turned out to be a tactical race at Cork in January before bombing out at Thurles in January.

Neither the Racing TV Handicap Hurdle (2.40) or Tote Supporting Downpatrick Racecourse Handicap Chase (3.40) offered much of interest, and it is hard to quantify the true potential of On The Sod in the the Boardsmill Sires Maiden Hunters Chase (4.10), with main rival Complete Sizing making up for lost time thanks to injury.

In the Molson Coors (Pro/Am) Flat Race (4.40) many will be excited to see Ballyadam once again, after he was too keen in heavy ground at Navan. There’s more to come from him, but he can be watched at a price of 3/10 and those odds take it on trust that he settles better this afternoon. He faces a well-regarded rules debutant in the shape of Yousayitbest, who brings together the very eye-catching duo of Patrick Mullins and Henry De Bromhead, and it should be an interesting watching brief.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK The Very Man in the 2.10 Downpatrick 2 pts at 13/8 with
BACK Cheb De Kerviniou in the 3.10 Downpatrick 1 pt at 5/1 with

PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 177.13 points
(Excluding Premier League ante-post, Six Nations Outright, Six Nations Specials, Labour Leadership Contest, Cameron Brown Football Bets, New Hampshire Primary)