Stick with The Real Article
The Real Article takes another step up in class when he faces off against Oscars Well, one of last term's very best novices, in the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal today.
If Edward O'Grady's six-year-old turns up in the kind of shape that saw him demolish two 150-plus rated hurdlers at Tipperary last month, he is the one in the five-runner Grade Two that will take all the beating. As a dual Grade One winner last season, the Jessica Harrington-trained Oscars Well is undoubtedly the main danger.
Desperately unlucky at Cheltenham in March, Robbie Power's mount has the proven form. However, he has been beaten on both of his previous seasonal bows, and that could be crucial here, with The Real Article's race-fitness sure to stand to him.
Barry Geraghty, who partners the selection, also has a squeak on O'Grady's Miss Nomer in the EBF Lough Construction Ltd Mares' Hurdle. Shadow Eile and Dazzling Susie are others to consider in this Grade Three novice, with the latter a potentially classy sort that is expected to turn in a big performance on her reappearance. Nonetheless, the improving Noras Fancy appeals strongly. Jimmy Mangan's representative hosed up by 22 lengths in a maiden hurdle at Galway in October, before turning out under top-weight in a handicap four days later off a mark of 100.
On that occasion, she stretched 11 lengths clear of Monhullan Prince. Given that Monhullan Prince went on to score with similar ease at Wexford on Sunday, there must be a chance that Noras Fancy can complete the hat-trick now.
In the Allianz Maiden Hurdle, Ipsos Du Berlais, another that cantered up at Galway two weeks ago, warrants the nap selection for Noel Meade and Paul Carberry, while Davy Russell could secure a brace courtesy of His Excellency and Four Commanders.
Having finished an encouraging second on its fencing debut at Limerick, Four Commanders, in particular, appeals in the beginners' chase.
At Dundalk tonight, Johnny Murtagh and Pat Smullen continue their ding-dong battle for the Flat jockeys' championship. With just two meetings remaining, Smullen trails Murtagh by two, and both men have numerous rides with live prospects this evening.
The current title-holder could strike first on Wellmarked in the six-furlong handicap, though Murtagh is fancied to record a late double on Reggae Rock and Ariyfa. Second twice already, Ariyfa may be his best ride in the concluding
Meanwhile Paul Nolan's Joncol started his season in the best possible fashion when beating Cooldine in some style in the John Meagher Memorial Chase at Thurles yesterday.
Willie Mullins' Cooldine was sent off a narrow favourite, possibly because he was in receipt of 10lb from the former Irish Hennessy winner Joncol.
Champion jockey Paul Townend set out to make all on Cooldine, who jumped well at the head of affairs on his first start since pulling up in the Lexus chase.
He appeared to have Joncol in trouble turning into the straight but Barry Geraghty pulled his mount over to the far side and found an impressive turn of foot. The 7-4 chance jumped the last superbly and powered in by 12 lengths.