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Russell can extend lead over Walsh with Wexford double

Davy Russell can further stretch his lead at the top of the jockeys' table by bagging a couple of winners in Ruby Walsh's absence at Wexford this evening.

The reigning champion has stressed that the matter of his retaining his title is no foregone conclusion, with Walsh able to pick from the majority of Willie Mullins' battalions for next week's Punchestown Festival.

Still, should both men make it to Punchestown in one piece, it is inconceivable that Walsh would outscore his rival by nine or more, which is what he would need to do if Russell hasn't extended his current lead of eight by then.

In all probability, Russell, who will also be aboard Mullins' Gigginstown Stud-owned runners next week, will exploit Walsh's two-day Ayr sojourn to gain a double-figure lead ahead of Cork's fixture on Monday.

Each of the champion's four booked mounts this evening have chances, with NOT FOR YOU napped to prevail in division two of the maiden hurdle. Not For You looked a smart sort when chasing home Tom Taffee's Gold Bullet on its second outing for Charles Byrnes at Limerick last month, form that received a fine boost when the winner followed up in style at Gowran Park recently.

If the Beneficial gelding replicates that level of performance now, he should take plenty stopping in this contest.

SLANEY CONFLICT is the other of Russell's rides that appeals in the three-mile handicap hurdle.

Trained in Enniscorthy by Shay Slevin, the nine-year-old has been placed in its two starts this year, finishing second to Mr Shankly at the same Limerick fixture a month ago.

The fourth home, Scouting Party, has since won readily at Thurles, giving that form a solid tint.

In the beginners' chase, Bryan Cooper can steer Dessie Hughes' useful Presenting mare CHASING SHADOWS to victory, while five-pound claimer Paddy Kennedy can take the two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle on Francis Flood's WICKLOW LAD.

Irish Independent