Jury Duty can see off National raiders and rule for Elliott
All eyes will be on Listowel today as the Kerry National (4.20) takes centre stage at the Harvest Festival where Gordon Elliott's Jury Duty bids to defy top-weight in the €200,000 contest under Robbie Power.
Elliott's charge gave stable-mate Clarcam too much rope in front when a creditable third in last month's Galway Plate and the extra two furlongs of the 3m handicap chase will suit the classiest horse in the race.
Seventeen go to post with a trio of English raiders and 22 years after riding his first career winner at the Kerry track, Neil Mulholland returns with Worcester winner Shantou Village while David Pipe and Kerry Lee are represented by Dell' Arca and Bishops Road respectively.
Jury Duty's biggest challenge is likely to come from the likes of 2015 winner Rogue Angel or an unexposed type like Willie Mullins' Blazer or Cullentra stable-mate Timiyan, however, but he is expected to stamp his class on affairs with conditions to suit.
Galway scorer Easy Game is favoured to enhance his reputation in the Ballygarry House Hotel Novice Hurdle (4.55) for Mullins while Johnny Murtagh's Sirjack Thomas looks the form choice in the earlier Brandon Hotel Handicap (3.15) after a fine effort when seventh in the Irish Cambridgeshire on his last start.
Joseph O'Brien was the hero on day three as the 25-year-old secured a 69/1 treble but the victory of Gold Seal came in controversial circumstances when the JP McManus runner was awarded the Liam Healy Memorial Lartigue Hurdle in the stewards room.
Elliott's Kuiper Belt (5/1 favourite) was first passed the post under Denis O'Regan but he veered across in front of the second home, Evan Daly on Gold Seal, approaching the second last causing sufficient interference for the placings to be reversed.
Frank Berry, racing manager to McManus, said: "Today was his Derby day and it was a lovely pot to win with him. I was up in the stands and had no real opinion on the enquiry, but Evan thought when he came in that he was unlucky as he was stopped at the wrong time. We'll find another handicap along the way."
Le Richebourg (4/5 favourite) also made a winning debut over fences under Barry Geraghty when scoring with ease in a beginners chase while Beautiful Citi (9/4) did likewise over hurdles to complete a good day's work for the Kilkenny-based trainer.
Conspicuous by his absence in Listowel, however, is Ruby Walsh, who is targeting a return later this month after yet another injury setback in a difficult season for the 39-year-old.
The 12-time champion jockey suffered a bruised neck and ribs following a crashing fall at Killarney last month which has forced him to spend some more time on the sidelines. Despite his obvious frustrations, the Kildare pilot admitted that he'll "just have to wait until it's right" before trying to add to his ten winners (from 29 rides) this season.
"I was hoping that it was going to heal sooner than it has. We have loads of good runners this week but I'm just too sore. Until I'm ready, I won't be back," Paddy Power ambassador Walsh said.
"Next week is quiet and Gowran Park and Tipperary at the end of the month are the next meetings that there is good racing at, so hopefully I'll be okay for then, with a bit of luck."