Synchronicity looking pitch perfect for Russell and Byrnes
Reigning champion jockey Davy Russell gets the nod to deliver the nap aboard Charles Byrnes' Synchronicity on this afternoon's modest Thurles spread.
The exquisite Youghal native has not finished outside the top two in the final championship standings since '07, and all the recent evidence suggests that his recent change in circumstances won't change that any time soon.
As was the case before he landed the Gigginstown gig, he has once again become many trainers' go-to man, and, while Ruby Walsh holds an unassailable lead in the title race, you would still fancy Russell to consolidate his superiority over the chasing pack.
He is nine clear of Andrew Lynch on 54 wins, despite missing the first month of the campaign, and has four decent chances to add to his tally here. Synchronicity, second to Wicklow Brave at Cork last time, could be the pick of the lot in the maiden hurdle.
Byrnes' charge is improving and the opposition are a middling bunch. John Joe Walsh's Sonny B drops back in trip after disappoin- ting over further at Limerick, but he mightn't have Synchronicity's quality even at his best.
Russell rides Malt Gem for Mary Hallahan in the two-mile-six-furlong handicap hurdle. This is a competitive affair, with Off The Charts' Fairyhouse win franked by the runner-up Day Dream Boy scoring at the same track.
There are a bunch of others in with chances, too, but Malt Gem appeals most after returning to form with a fair third over an inadequate trip here two weeks ago. Successful in deep ground over three miles at Cork in April, he will relish this more thorough test and doesn't look harshly treated off his current rating.
Willie Mullins' Don Poli, second to Festive Felon on its Irish bow, should take the longer maiden hurdle for Bryan Cooper and the champion trainer might also land the bumper with the point-to-point victor Measureofmydreams.
The beginners' chase is tricky, but Kandinski gets the nod to end a frustrating run under Philip Enright.
Robert Tyner's point-winning eight-year-old has been second in seven of his nine track starts. But he looks quite genuine and might yet mature over fences.