Clarcam to carry Cooper to comeback win
Gordon Elliott enjoys a healthy lead over Willie Mullins in the early salvos of the jump season and he can extend that advantage by dominating the final leg of Bellewstown's three-day festival.
Prior to last night's racing, Elliott's 26 domestic winners constituted exactly twice as many as the perennial champion had amassed, while his prize money yield of €339,500 is 66pc more than Mullins' haul.
Of course, that could all change over the course of a couple of days at Ballybrit later in the month, but Elliott will continue to make hay while he can. He has a raft of chances on this evening's spread, with three in particular fancied.
In Clarcam and Bamako Moriviere, he and Mullins are responsible for two of the leading protagonists in the opening conditions hurdle.
Dermot Weld's Waaheb is another likely to figure prominently, but Clarcam is the one with ticks in all the right boxes. A dual Grade One-winning chaser, he is on a hat-trick here after winning over hurdles and fences recently. On ratings, he is the best horse in the race and he is in form, so it's not easy to make a case against him.
At Cheltenham two years ago, he gave Bryan Cooper the horrendous fall that left the Gigginstown Stud jockey with a broken leg. Here, Clarcam will be Cooper's first ride back after he required a month off to recuperate having had a pin removed from his leg, so it would be somewhat fitting if they were to deliver.
The featured €30,000 handicap hurdle is a race that Elliott and Jack Kennedy won with Tempo Mac last year. They combine for Seeyouallincoppers this time, and are again expected to plunder the €18,450 winner's share.
Tom Gibney's The Nutcracker and Jessica Harrington's Flaviana are mares with real chances in this, while top-weight Tigris River will be interesting on its bow for Joseph O'Brien.
Still, a strong case can be made for Seeyouallincoppers. When last seen over flights at Cork in May, he won tidily off a mark of 117.
In off 123 now, he remains in fine fettle, crashing two-out over fences when in the front rank at Limerick last time. If none the worse for the spill, he will take a bit of stopping in this.
The same day at Limerick, Elliott's Takeittothelimits was a convincing winner of the bumper.
The daughter of Stowaway looked really professional in seeing off an odds-on O'Brien gelding called Aeglos, so she is trusted to follow up under Luke McGuinness now.
O'Brien is responsible for the day's nap vote in the shape of Tesseract.
Elliott's Down Royal bumper winner Robin Des Mana will be one to watch in this maiden hurdle, and there are others with chances as well.
Nonetheless, Tesseract should collect. A triple bumper winner in 2015, he returned for a first time this year with a solid second to Delegate at Roscommon last month. On that occasion, he left the impression that he would be capable of better yet.
The in-demand Jonathan Moore could maintain his fine run of form aboard Noel Meade's Jack Slade in the first division of the conditional jockeys' race.
Tomorrow's nap selection is the Tom Hogan-trained Cant Wait in the bumper. Barry O'Neill's mount was disqualified after passing the post in front at Thurles in March, and things happened too quickly for her in better company at Punchestown.
However, she kept on well in defeat when second at Wexford 18 days ago, and the suspicion is that this two-and-a-half-mile trip will play to her strengths.
On the Flat at Naas, Ger Lyons and Colin Keane could take the featured handicap with the progressive Tony The Gent.
Earlier on, Aidan O'Brien's Sportsmanship appeals as one to keep on side in the juveniles' maiden following an eye-catching debut at the Curragh.