Kennedy can answer 'Noble' call for Elliott
Teenage sensation Jack Kennedy looks as though he could be the man to keep on side at Down Royal this afternoon.
With a running tally of 25 winners in his first season riding under rules, the 16-year-old tyro trails David Mullins by just four in the conditional jockeys' championship.
Such is his momentum, it is conceivable that he could well top the pile at the end of term, although Mullins is also a serious young talent. Today, Kennedy is booked to ride in each of the five races for which he is eligible.
He will partner Noble Endeavour for his boss Gordon Elliott in the opening beginners' chase, and the Cheltenham Festival runner-up is the pick of his mounts if he elects to put his best foot forward.
That isn't necessarily a given, as he has been frustrating.
However, if he runs to the level that saw him finish third to Monksland at Gowran Park last month, he ought to be winning this modest heat.
Jim Dreaper's Venitien De Mai, a final-fence faller at Thurles last time, is the chief threat to the selection.
Elliott's Westend Star, which ran well on its first start for the stable when fifth at Navan, should go close under Kennedy in the first handicap hurdle.
In the later event, Kennedy teams up with Dot Love for Solar Heat. Kept ticking over at Dundalk, Solar Heat had the last of five runs over flights at Galway in October, when he finished second to Deputy Marshall.
If he can build on that, a first-time rating of 100 gives him a chance in what is an open affair.
Earlier, British rider Lorna Brooke will be reunited with Moonlone Lane in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase. Brooke steered Paul Stafford's charge to victory at Fairyhouse in November, before they successfully reverted to hurdling at Musselburgh.
On that occasion, Moonlone Lane won nicely off a mark of 95, so a rating of 93 here would suggest that he could have another day in him over the bigger obstacles.
Colin McBratney's in-form point-to-pointer Marito is the one to beat under Noel McParlan in the hunters' chase, while Bel Ami De Sivola appeals for Noel Meade in the maiden hurdle.
Nina Carberry's mount improved to be third behind Bleu Et Rouge at Cork in November. If he makes similar progress from his second run to his third, then he won't be far away under the peerless amateur rider.