Rock Diplomat a solid choice
Downpatrick stages the solitary midweek Irish fixture this afternoon, with the session notable both for the Ulster Grand National and Nina Carberry's comeback from injury.
Southern trainers look poised to take the lion's share of today's honours, with George Stewart's 2006 and 2007 scorer News Item and top weight Selection Box perhaps the pick of the Ulster National's home defence.
This €25,000 Toals Bookmakers promotion also features Tyrone-based James Lambe's Ring Street Roller, which will be attempting a fourth success in a half-dozen outings in a maximum field of 15 hopefuls for the marathon.
The balance of power, however, could rest between Jessica Harrington's often-placed Hume River, runner-up to Inoma James at Punchestown in a similar contest, and Rock Diplomat, which unseated his rider there.
The latter performed with plenty of credit more recently at Fairyhouse for Michael Cunningham's yard when making most of the running in a handicap hurdle before being reeled in by stable companion Sharekan.
The Meath handler has secured the valuable services of Paul Townend for Rock Diplomat and the young Cork pilot could emulate last year's victory for his boss Willie Mullins aboard Ballytrim.
The Colin McBratney-Paddy Flood combination associated with Selection Box here may secure quick compensation in the Irish Stallion Farms Novice Chase with Mighty Massini.
Fourth to Jagoes Mills at Fairyhouse, Mighty Massini defeated Nicanor at Down Royal late last year and the 126-rated jumper should beat Red Kingdom in a modest renewal of a race won by the classy Barker 12 months ago.
The Richard Behan-sponsored bumper may rest between Jim Bowie for owner-trainer Noel Meade and Paul Nolan's Gala Dancer on foot of their promising debuts at Navan and Limerick.
It may be significant that Meade has chosen this event for Nina Carberry's welcome return to action after several weeks on the sidelines.
Jim Bowie shaped like a certain future winner when the 25/1 chance stayed on to fill second place behind Kerb Appeal in a decent maiden hurdle and the Dushyantor gelding is napped to outpace Gala Dancer.