Fresh Balko Des Flos primed to score at Down Royal
Down Royal racecourse has been in the news for all the wrong reasons with the management company's lease soon to run out, putting the future of racing there in some doubt. But there's still talks going on to sort it out, which have been described as positive.
For now at least, the show goes on and the Irish National Hunt season really kicks on a gear with the first Grade One of the Season.
The JNWine.com (2.30) has attracted seven runners and we've seen some of the greatest chasers in the game win this in its short but distinguished history since 1999 including Florida Pearl, Beef Or Salmon, Kauto Star and Don Cossack.
This year, Noel Meade's Road To Respect heads the market at the time of writing around 15/8 and he traded as low as 1/20 in-running on Betfair last year before being outgunned by Gordon Elliott's Outlander, which re-opposes.
But both horses have put in some questionable runs since, and preference is for Henry de Bromhead's Balko Des Flos, which goes well fresh. The Ryanair Chase winner wasn't in the same form in Aintree's Melling Chase, but it looked to me that Cheltenham had taken quite a bit out of him.
In the following Grade Two MyCarNeedsA.com (3.05), I'm quite keen on Noel Meade's Snow Falcon around 4/1, which looks well treated at these conditions carrying 11st 5lbs.
A fine winner of the 18-runner Kerry National in September, he'd previously done well to finish fourth in the Galway Plate following a couple of mistakes. The eight-year-old is still improving and Meade has said he couldn't be happier with him at the moment.
Gordon Elliott's Shattered Love is also one for the shortlist around 2/1 based on her JLT Novices' Chase win at Cheltenham.
A good case could be made for a number of entries in the Rainbow Communications Handicap Chase (3.40) but I'm happy to go with Gordon Elliott's likely favourite Presenting Julio, which has been chalked up at 11/4 early-doors under Davy Russell.
Each-way backers might like to consider Henry de Bromhead's One In All In for the Grade B Billecard-Salmon Handicap Hurdle (1.55), and sits at the bottom of the weights on 119.
Meanwhile, Bedrock inflicted a surprise defeat on the returning Samcro in the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal yesterday.
With Jack Kennedy in the saddle, Samcro got a lead from Galway Hurdle winner Sharjah and Ruby Walsh before moving to the front rounding the home turn, but he did not quicken as anticipated on the run to the final flight and was soon claimed by Scottish raider Bedrock (12/1), which picked up well on the run-in under Rachael Blackmore.