Friday 15 December 2017

Russell to steal march on Ruby

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

WITH today's reduced hurdle card at Gowran Park the only surviving domestic action this weekend, Davy Russell has an opportunity to alleviate some of the heat that Ruby Walsh has been applying of late at the top of the riders' table.

Tomorrow's scheduled fixture at Navan, which was earmarked to host today's lost Red Mills Chase, has been postponed until Tuesday.

That means that the Youghal-born reigning champion gets the chance to capitalise, while Walsh, who drew level on Wednesday only for Russell to pull two clear again 24 hours later, is on duty at Ascot.

Roque Angel is possibly the pick of Russell's rides in the first division of the two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle.

Mouse Morris' Presenting five-year-old won a point-to-point, a bumper and a maiden hurdle on his first three starts, but didn't progress as expected in his final two outings of 2012.

He drops to handicap company now off a very reasonable first-time mark of 122, which should see him regain the winning thread after two months off.

The Holden Plant Rentals-sponsored second leg is the more competitive of the two divisions.

Sinead O'Sullivan's Limerick winner All The Way Home and Eoin Doyle's hat-trick-seeking Lookoutnow both have plenty appeal. In particular, Lookoutnow, still six pounds lower than when hacking up here over fences recently, might be hard to stop.

However, the Morris-trained Call Rog has been progressing quietly in JP McManus' silks. A final-flight stumble did for him when he was second to Treat Yourself here in December, before he kept on for third behind Canaly at Punchestown last time.

Mallowney, second then, ran well since to be seventh in the Boylesports Hurdle, while the fifth, Civena, took third behind Colbert Station at Punchestown. As such, Call Rog's form stands up well, so he should go close for Mark Walsh now.

In the opening maiden, Russell might upset the Willie Mullins hotpot Djakadam when he partners Charles Byrnes' useful Flat recruit Courage, though it's hard to see beyond the champion trainer in the Red Mills Hurdle.

He saddles Zaidpour and So Young, with Paul Townend opting for the former, which won the Grade Two in 2012.

Russell's mount Arnaud, Hisaabaat, Rory O'Moore and Missunited are all distinctly capable, but Zaidpour, a Grade One winner already this term, is the pick on official figures. The day's nap vote goes to Romantic Fashion in the concluding bumper.

Prunella Dobbs' charge was a fine third to the decent Blackmail at Leopardstown last month and won't need to improve much to score under Jane Mangan now.

• AIDAN O'BRIEN'S 16-year-old daughter Ana rode her first winner at Dundalk last night as Fairylike took victory for the family's stable at odds of 10/1.

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