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Byrne to enjoy Birthday treat

BIRR-BASED rookie trainer Philip Byrne and five-pound claimer Leigh Roche can land the nap selection with Charismas Birthday at Dundalk tonight.

When the partnership last combined at the Louth venue early last month, Roche punched the four-year-old Choisir filly clear to give Byrne a first win under his restricted licence.

In the meantime, Charismas Birthday has turned in two more fine efforts to be placed, latterly being hampered at the death when third behind Thats A Fret and Footprint two weeks ago.

Footprint reopposes in this evening's concluding six-furlong handicap, but Leigh's allowance means that his mount competes on five-pound better terms, which may be enough to turn around a length-and-a-quarter deficit.

Gary Phillips, another decent apprentice, is fancied to steer Garvan Donnelly's Samollie to success in the preceding mile handicap.

Despite a field of 14, this is a fairly weak contest, with Charlie Swan's returning You Got Heart one of the few with potential.

Like Samollie, You Got Heart is a three-year-old in against its elders early in the campaign, but Donnelly's consistent and race-fit gelding is established as an able operator, so it will be a surprise if he isn't up to the task.

The bang in-form Johnny Murtagh has two spins that appeal. From his book of four rides, Arthur Moore's strong finishing Dart Queen and Liam Roche's Billyford may be the pick.

Dart Queen, third and fourth here in two starts this year, can take advantage of a small field in the Dundalk Stadium On Facebook Handicap, while Billyford is a couple of pounds better off with Banna Boirche, its conqueror here last week, in the Crown Plaza Race & Stay Package Handicap.

On a direct line through Solent Ridge, Billyford should also have the measure of Jim Bolger's impressive recent winner Vastitas in that competitive €20,000 feature event.

Irish Independent