Townend to prove Sambremont supersub as Ruby stays at home
Ruby Walsh eschews the chance of Naas winners tomorrow with a view to Cheltenham and Paul Townend can take advantage by steering Sambremont to victory in the Download The Ladbrokes Exchange App Leinster National.
The Willie Mullins-trained steed has smart form over shorter trips and it was encouraging that he could finish second over three-and-a-half miles at Punchestown last time. Tomorrow's distance is more to his liking and the fact he has acted well around Navan is also encouraging as Naas is a similar track.
The notion of a staying chase with the "National" moniker is somewhat diluted at this stage, as there seems to be one run every second week. However, this is a well-funded and high-class handicap, with Thyestes runner-up Ucello Conti and former Irish National winner Thunder And Roses among the cast.
Gordon Elliott, who has had over 1,000 runners in Ireland this season, can strike in the opener, the Irish Racing Writers Kingsfurze Novice Hurdle, with Minella Till Dawn. Rider Mark Walsh has a smashing book of Cheltenham rides and victory here will tee him up nicely.
Patrick Mullins, who will have a daily column in this newspaper next week - not Townend - rides Townshend in the maiden chase, which will take no winning.
JP McManus, who celebrated his birthday yesterday, attacks the Naas Supporters Handicap Hurdle with three runners. Walsh rides That's A Wrap but Thirsty Work is interesting for Jessica Harrington if one can ignore his flop last time.
The novice chase attracted considerable attention at entry stage, when nine of the ten possibles were Gigginstown-owned. McManus has kept in Oscar Knight, his sole entry. Prince Of Scars has been something of a flop over fences for Elliott given his size and what he achieved hurdling but is given one more chance.
McManus' Never Off Duty should have no problem landing the maiden hurdle for Robert Tyner and Mystic Theatre can provide Patrick Mullins and his dad with a double in the finale.
Gowran's card today is not especially appealing, though former top-class chaser Foxrock adds some intrigue in the Tetratema Cup Hunters Chase. The decision to reroute to hunter company has proved relatively lucrative for this horse and he can land cramped odds now. Ted Walsh tries a tongue tie and visor.
The big race, the Holden Plant Rentals Shamrock Handicap Chase, is desperately tough. Fine Theatre, a half-brother to Joncol, has not been seen since last April and is an accordingly tentative pick for Paul Nolan.
There is much more depth to the second maiden hurdle and Drumconnor Lad, trained by Guineas-winning trainer Adrian Keatley, is pretty solid. He was thereabouts when falling last time. It will be interesting to see how Broken Soul, which has gotten an incredible British rating of 140, gets on.
Terence O'Brien, an excellent handler in Co Cork, has a gutsy sort in Mill Quest, which should be hard to keep out of the frame in the handicap hurdle, while the nap vote goes to Elliott's General Principle in the maiden chase. He has not really set the world alight chasing but surely will outstay Dicosimo and the rest don't seem to count.
Minellafordollars can provide Elliott with a treble in the finale.