Rivage D'Or golden ticket for Russell
DAVY RUSSELL, the bang-in-form leader of the jockeys' championship, has another cracking book of rides at Thurles today.
With select mounts in four of the seven scheduled races, it's not inconceivable that he could depart the Tipperary venue without suffering defeat. Of the quartet, the classiest horse that he is due to ride is Dessie Hughes' Rivage D'Or in the beginners' chase.
Rattan, representing Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, poses a serious threat in this, as does the Margaret Mullins-trained Marlay Park.
However, apart from being rated some way superior to both of those over flights, Rivage D'Or also has the benefit of previous fencing experience, something neither of the aforementioned duo has.
At Tipperary recently, the French-bred six-year-old jumped fluently before tiring into third behind two experienced novices, Derinlaur and Forjoetheplumber.
All in all, on his first outing since finishing second off a mark of 130 at the Punchestown Festival, it was a fine effort, so he is expected to serve it up to the opposition now.
Russell might then double up in the Gigginstown Stud colours when he takes the mount on Sea Of Thunder in the maiden hurdle.
This doesn't look to be a great race on paper, but Charles Byrnes' Old Vic gelding's third behind Farrells Fancy and Worldly Wise at the same Tipperary fixture was an encouraging seasonal bow.
The conditions hurdle is the most valuable race on show, with €10,350 on offer to the winner.
Rick, a last-gasp victor over Blackstairmountain at Punchestown on his most recent outing back in January, has a chance, as does the highest-rated of the 11-strong field, Rigour Bob Back, which finished fifth to Big Buck's at Cheltenham in March.
Former Cheltenham winner Berties Dream makes his debut for the Henry de Bromhead stable, while Let Yourself Go does likewise for Colin Bowe. Any of the above could figure prominently, but Philip Fenton's Pineau De Re is fancied to come first.
Placed in some tip-top novice events last term, the Barry Connell-owned eight-year-old should be all the better for a pipe-opener on the Flat at Navan a fortnight ago.
In the last race of the day, Eoin Doyle and five-pound claimer Michael Butler have an interesting contender in Lookoutnow.
The two-mile-six-furlong handicap hurdle is essentially wide open, but this one justified good support when just denied on its most recent start at Downpatrick back in March.
Off a two-pound higher mark, Lookoutnow remains well handicapped.