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Banksters primed to deny Dane

Celtic Dane will need to leave behind a poor run if he is to repeat last year's narrow victory in the Magners Ulster Derby at Down Royal this afternoon.

Kevin Prendergast's seven-year-old got the campaign off to an excellent start when scoring at Leopardstown, and followed that with another sound effort to be third at the same venue at the beginning of May.

However, he subsequently failed to make any impact at The Curragh, so his well-being ahead of this must be taken on trust. That said, when you factor in Sam James' claim, Celtic Dane competes off a 4lb lower mark than last year. If he does return to form, then, he has a big chance.

On recent racecourse performances, though, Banksters Bonus stands out under the in-form Shane Foley.

A Curragh maiden winner in 2010, Jessica Harrington's Big Bad Bob gelding finished second in Gowran Park's Classic trial in May, and his latest outing, when a close fourth to Laughing at Leopardstown, is a classy bit of form.

In the Ulster Oaks, Night Glimmer can make the most of her light weight. The progressive four-year-old has won twice and been second twice in her last four starts.

Most recently, Niall McCullagh's mount filled the runner-up berth behind the smart Haziyna when conceding 17lbs at Navan.

With the fourth home Leceile winning easily at Naas next time, that looks particularly solid form.

McCullagh could double up on Sinntani in the concluding Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden. It's Freezing and Mcmonagle also bring a respectable level of form into this, but they are far more exposed than the twice-raced Sinntani.

The John Oxx-trained Dalakhani colt improved on his first start to keep on for third in a decent maiden behind Parkers Mill at Tipperary at the end of April. If he progresses again, he should be hard to beat.

A similar comment applies to Kevin Prendergast's Spirit Of Cuba in the Louis Roederer Handicap. The Invincible Spirit filly was second off a career-high mark of 74 at Navan last time, and catches the eye now under useful 10lb claimer Sam Bell.

Irish Independent