Walsh and Elliott to Hold Em at bay
RUBY WALSH travels to Downpatrick for a solitary, rare mount for Gordon Elliott aboard Hold Em Cowboy today, and the partnership appeals as solid nap material.
The nine-year-old has improved steadily after transferring to the prolific Meath-based handler during the summer, latterly running out a smooth handicap hurdle winner off a career-high mark of 99 for Bobby McNally at Navan last Saturday.
He switches back to fences now for the two-and-a-quarter-mile handicap off just 87, a rating that is 1lb lower than that off which he won at Navan in 2012 and 4lb below the 91 off which he finished second to Reality Dose at Naas in the spring.
As such, given Hold Em Cowboy's facile weekend return to form, he looks especially well treated against nine largely modest and exposed rivals.
The reigning champion jockey Davy Russell, a distant second behind Walsh in the current title race, should get among the winners on Charles Byrnes' Arnaud in the conditions hurdle.
A stylish victor on his last two of three chasing starts in the summer, Arnaud's strike-rate over flights is far less impressive, with a maiden hurdle win at Christmas in 2011 all that he has to show for a dozen outings.
However, he should get the good ground that he relishes here, so he is fancied to account for four inferior opponents.
Definite Elegance, trained and ridden by Denis Hogan, should take all the beating in a weak mares' maiden hurdle, while Mick Winters' Silver Chief gets the nod to make the journey from Cork pay in the beginners' chase.
This is another middling heat, but Andrew McNamara's mount has the benefit of a couple of summer chasing runs.
When Silver Chief last ran at Clonmel eight days ago, she showed her best form for some time to be third to Afatcat. It could be that she is coming right now.
Dundalk also races for a second time this week tonight. A few horses that have run at the all-weather facility have been declared again, with Stynes, third here on Wednesday, possibly the most interesting in the penultimate conditions race.
Valley Queen and Catwilldo, both of which were second at the Louth track a week ago, also appeal.
On its first start since August, Garvan Donnelly's Catwilldo lost little when going down to Missile Command under Gary Philips last week, so she should go close off better terms with her conqueror in the six-furlong handicap.
Tom McCourt's Valley Queen has been running consistently well lately. Second to Miller Beach under Colin Keane last Friday, she ought to take plenty stopping in the second division of the apprentices' handicap now.