Samcro unlikely to have it all his own way
All eyes are on Samcro with Gordon Elliott's superstar starting the jumps season with a bang at Down Royal as he takes his first steps towards a tilt at next year's Champion Hurdle.
The Grade Two WKD Hurdle (1.45) is no penalty-kick, however, with Samcro just 5lbs superior to Galway Hurdle winner Sharjah on ratings and conceding 8lbs to Willie Mullins's charge at this level.
Everyone is expecting fireworks from Samcro but Gigginstown's six-year-old won't have it all his own way and Sharjah will keep him honest, while the presence of Iain Jardine's Bedrock also makes this an intriguing four-runner contest.
Lofty reputations are also on the line in the Grade Three Mares Novice Hurdle (1.10), where impressive Galway maiden hurdle winner Sancta Simona steps up in grade for Mullins.
The Closutton maestro was sweet on the future prospects of the JP McManus-owned five-year-old earlier this week but also saddles Dont Hesitate - the mount of Ruby Walsh - and the Mullins pair should dominate affairs between them.
Today also sees the chasing debut of Elliott's Delta Work - Pertemps Final winner at this year's Cheltenham Festival - and the classy five-year-old should make it a winning start in the beginners chase (2.55).
Attention turns to the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs in Kentucky this evening where Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore bid to continue their dominance in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (9.22).
O'Brien and Moore have won four of the last seven runnings - most recently with Mendelssohn 12 months ago - and Dewhurst third Anthony Van Dyck (11/4) can secure a fifth victory with further improvement expected when over a mile.
Ballydoyle also hold strong claims in the Juvenile Fillies Turf (8.0) with Just Wonderful (9/2) following her Group Two Rockfel Stakes triumph last month but Chad Brown's Newspaperofrecord (6/4 favourite) may prove a tough nut to crack.
O'Brien opens the night in the Listed Juvenile Turf Sprint (7.21) where he is represented by Newmarket Group Three scorer Sergei Prokofiev (4/1) while So Perfect (13/2) is twice placed at Group One level and also holds a strong chance.