Condon and Elliott look dressed to kill with Couture
On a Downpatrick card that had to forfeit its two scheduled chases following heavy rainfall, Totally Couture warrants the nap vote for Gordon Elliott and Davy Condon.
The ground on the hurdle course is described as heavy and is subject to an 8.0 inspection this morning, but similar going didn't unduly trouble the four-year-old when he finished with a flourish to be third behind the classy Un Atout at Navan. That was over two miles, so the five-furlong step up in trip for the Bet With The Bookies Maiden Hurdle should suit ideally.
On what is Totally Couture's second start over flights, the danger is Willie Mullins' debutant Un Beau Roman, the only other four-year-old on duty. Yet another of the champion trainer's French imports, Un Beau Roman finished second behind Elliott's useful Un Beau Matin in a French bumper last year, so he clearly has ability.
Mullins is taken to bag the opening two races with Raise Hell and Darroun. Raise Hell, an encouraging second to Touch The Eden on its reappearance at Thurles last month, doesn't have a whole lot to beat in the opening maiden hurdle.
In the Giltspur Scientific Christmas Hurdle, Darroun has more on its plate, with Edeymi and Donnas Palm two of its four rivals closely matched on ratings.
Darroun didn't quite fulfil its potential after landing a Leopardstown maiden in January, and he looked flat when beaten at odds-on at Ballinrobe in May. Crucially, however, Paul Townend's mount was most potent at this time of the year last term, so that he has been freshened up ahead of this may prove significant.
Ross O'Sullivan's six-year-old Popmurphy is also fancied in the Martinstown Novice Handicap Hurdle that follows under the excellent Mark Enright.