Soll can help Walsh keep pressure on Russell
HAVING whittled another one off Davy Russell's lead in the jockeys' championship over the weekend, Ruby Walsh heads to Down Royal this afternoon in his bid to make further inroads into a gap that now stands at 15.
With Willie Mullins' team in such rude health, Walsh has steadily chipped away at Russell's lead -- which stood at 23 at the end of November.
Five times a runner-up in the title race, Russell remains odds-on to top the pile, but the 3/1 that can be had about eight-time champion Walsh is starting to look a shade generous. That said, a score draw is predicted today.
Walsh -- fresh from yesterday's flying visit to Taunton where he landed a treble -- takes four rides at the Co Down venue and is napped on Mullins' Soll in the novice chase.
Mouse Morris' frustrating Big Game Hunter, third to Medical Card at Limerick last time, is Russell's mount here but Soll is an altogether more promising proposition.
An imposing son of Presenting that won its point-to-point at Liscarroll two years ago, the seven-year-old obliged on its only hurdling start at Newcastle 12 months ago.
On its first run for Mullins a month ago, Soll had Saturday's winner Colbert Station back in fourth when finishing second to Son Amix at Punchestown. If he improves any bit for that first run over fences, he is going to be hard to beat now.
Walsh is on the Thurles runner-up Quaquo De Flotte in the Sean Graham Bookmakers Maiden Hurdle, but this could go Russell's way on Beef To The Heels. Second to two other Mullins horses -- Felix Yonger and Hats And Heels -- on its latest outings, the Gordon Elliott-trained contender seems to be going the right way.
Fresh from another big-race triumph on Sunday, Andrew Lynch can get his day off to a winning start on Robbie Hennessy's Mister First in the opener, while Liszt appeals in the Weatherbys Bloodstock Insurance Hurdle. Formerly of Ballydoyle, Mervyn Torrens' blinkered front-runner split Ros Brin and Oscar Hill at Fairyhouse recently.
With those two winning in the interim, that form stands up well in the context of this nine-runner heat.