Townend the man to follow at Limerick
Paul Townend has a bundle of decent rides at Limerick this afternoon.
Last year's champion jockey enjoyed his first Grade One winner of the season on Arvika Ligeonniere earlier in the week, and his good run ought to continue on day three of the Munster venue's Christmas Festival. In the Liberty Insurance Novice Hurdle, a €28,500 Grade Three, the Cork-born rider partners Pride Ofthe Parish for his boss Willie Mullins.
Successful in a bumper here 12 months ago, the Archie O'Leary-owned eight-year-old has been a late developer. However, he got off the mark over flights in commanding fashion at the second time of asking at Punchestown earlier in the month, and steps up in trip by half a mile to three miles now.
The smart Our Vinnie, Pride Ofthe Parish's main rival in the five-runner contest, is rated 5lb superior but must concede 6lb. That gives the selection a slight edge on official figures, which he should be able to convert into a victory if he improves some bit for the longer trip now.
Townend is on Turban for the champion trainer in the Irish Independent Beginners' Chase. A five-year-old son of Dom Alco that didn't really progress over flights after obliging on its Thurles debut last year, Turban nonetheless had useful placed form behind the likes of Tofino Bay and Shrapnel.
That sets a decent standard, though he will need to be at his best, as the likes of Savello, Castle Wings, Moiqen and Pineau De Re are all able sorts that have the benefit of previous fencing experience.
Mullins and Townend introduce Dogora in the opening three-year-old hurdle. Again, others have more experience and Dogora didn't win either of its two bumpers in France in the spring.
The Dermot Weld-trained Pacelli Road, an encouraging runner-up behind South South West on its first try at Gowran Park, also has its claims.
Still, any newcomer from France sporting the Rich Ricci colours demands a second look, so it is worth taking a chance on Dogora proving up to the job.
Townend might also go close on John Berry's Give Us A Hand in the Emmet Leahy Millstream Memorial Veterans' Chase, though he may have to give best to Colin Bowe's Kashline in the Project Architects & Aeon Consultants Maiden Hurdle.
In truth, this two-mile-five-furlong affair has little strength in depth. Kashline, a dual point-to-point winner, has now shown fair potential to be placed in similar races behind Drawn And Drank and Dante Anna.
Those are hardly top-class recommendations, but are by far the best on offer here. If Barry O'Neill's mount reproduces that level of performance now, he should make the most of the opportunity.
• THE Turf Club has announced that there is to be an 8.0 precautionary course inspection at Limerick this morning ahead of today's scheduled fixture due to the threat of overnight rain. Yesterday, the course was raceable with the ground described as heavy.