Nina to get Gilgamboa back on track for McManus
The hunter chase at Down Royal this afternoon traditionally attracts a quality field and this year's renewal is no exception, with former Grade One winner Gilgamboa the standout name.
Nina Carberry travels north to take the ride on the JP McManus-owned gelding in the Toals Bookmakers Hunters Chase. Enda Bolger's nine-year-old will be bidding to recapture somewhere near his best having suffered defeat on both his point-to-point outings this autumn.
Gilgamboa went down by a head on the second of those two starts at Mainstown earlier this month and connections will be hoping he can build on those efforts now that he returns to the track.
The son of Westerner was fourth in the 2016 Grand National behind Rule the World and just over 12 months ago running against Douvan in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork, so could be a different class today if he can find his old spark.
Jim Dreaper looks to have a strong hand in the two-mile six-furlong contest with two decent sorts in Sizing Coal and Venitien De Mai. The former would appear to be the first choice in the colours of the late Ann & Alan Potts with Jamie Codd taking the mount.
He ran well to finish third in a cross-country contest at Punchestown last month having won 'between the flags' at Portrush previously. There was only a neck between him and Sambremont that day so that rival is entitled to be thereabouts again.
Dreaper also saddles former Leinster National winner Venitien De Mai which won an open event at Lingstown in good style last month.
Gordon Elliott is set to have a huge amount of runners over the festive period and looks to have several leading contenders on the Down Royal card.
Sutton Manor shapes as the one to beat in the opening beginners' chase, in which fellow Gigginstown gelding Burgas would appear the threat in a four-runner heat.
Donie McInerney gets the leg up on Elliott's Minellafordollars in the maiden hurdle over an extended two miles and three furlongs. The McManus-owned five-year-old will be expected to improve from his comeback at Gowran when he finished third behind smart prospect Carter Mckay.
Elliott teams up with Codd in the bumper with Gigginstown' Dorydalis appearing to have very strong claims. The four-year-old was fourth in a strong sales bumper won by Red Jack at Fairyhouse, but a chance is taken on Noel Meade's point-to-point runner-up Brace Yourself, which can seal a double for Carberry.