Friday 23 August 2019

Ruby keeps it local as Douvan returns at Cork

Jockey Ruby Walsh. Photo: Seb Daly / Sportsfile
Jockey Ruby Walsh. Photo: Seb Daly / Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Douvan, perhaps the best steeplechaser since Arkle, makes his seasonal return in Cork's Grade Two Kerry Group Hilly Way Steeplechase tomorrow.

There was some debate during the week as to whether Ruby Walsh (right) would ride him or go to Punchestown, where he gets the steer on Djakadam in the feature Grade One John Durkan. There was no great shock that he chose his local track.

However, the trip is a bit short for Ruby's mount and it could be the case that Willie Mullins' nephew Danny steps in for another Grade One-winning ride.

His mount, Djakadam, is one of the most reliable chasers in training but he is no good thing over the distance. Black Hercules produced a scintillating performance when last seen in the JLT Novices' Chase and has every chance. Respect is given to his former stablemate Outlander, which was set to win the Clonmel Oil only to crash out at the last. Something like today's distance looks his optimum.

The opening novice hurdle could go to Sunni May, though he will need to step up on what he showed in a last-gasp win at Cork. Likely the better ground will be in his favour.

Champagne Classic makes no end of appeal in the following maiden hurdle. He stays but he does not lack gears, as he showed when trouncing potential rival Turcagua's stablemate Some Neck in a bumper.

Dawerann has been a little outpaced over shorter the last twice and the step to two-and-a-half miles looks perfect for him in the handicap, with Cian Collins value for his claim.

American Tom is a notable recruit to the larger obstacles in the maiden chase, though this is a race laden with quality, Beltelimar and Blue Hell among his rivals.

White Arm is a hopeful pick in the handicap chase under Donagh Meyler, while Aeglos can take the bumper under JJ Slevin.

No doubt people will flock to Cork to see Douvan and it is surprising that as many as seven rivals take him on in the Hilly Way. This should prove a genuine test for the son of Walk In The Park, which was a best-priced 1/5 yesterday. Odds-on for the Queen Mother, there seems no apparent temptation just yet among connections to step him up in trip and he should be kept to two miles at least for now.

Mallow's card is a cracking supporting act to Punchestown and begins with a juvenile hurdle in which TRee Of Knowledge should take the beating, especially at an easy track such as this.

Willie Mullins has won the Kerry Group Stayers Novice Hurdle with some really useful types; Road To Riches is also a former winner. The Mullins-trained Screaming Rose looks to have Monbeg Notorious to fear.

Stablemate Listen Dear should continue her winning sequence in the Kerry Group EBF Mares Novice Chase, Orchard Road can follow up his Limerick success in the handicap hurdle and Varene De Vauzelle has obvious claims in the finale under in-form professional Rachael Blackmore.

At Navan today, the feature Foxrock Handicap Steeplechase has prize-money of €50,000. Kitten Rock made a lovely return to action at Gowran for Edward O'Grady and could give the weight away but preference is for the ultra-reliable Call It Magic.

Chirico Vallis brings a touch of swagger to the opening maiden hurdle, run at noon, and it will be disappointing if he cannot collect here under Mark Walsh, among the winners at Cheltenham yesterday.

Gordon Elliott shows no sign of relenting in his title charge and can double up with Three Swallowsnick in the mares' maiden hurdle, this one having won all her starts up to now.

Kilkeaskins First's market moves will be informative in the Drogheda Handicap Hurdle, his having landed a gamble at a big price last month, but Boris Boru is a more solid alternative.

The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Klairon Davis Novice Steeplechase is a really intriguing event but the class of Briar Hill should come to the fore. It was at this venue that he had a desperate fall in 2015 that scarred his face markedly; it took him time to recover but he was good at Killarney when last seen.

There remains a small concern about Prince Of Scars' resolution after his defeat at Naas, his selection in the maiden chase thus somewhat reluctant.

Elliott can complete a profitable day at his local track by taking the finale with Soul Kaliber, at the expense of Minella Fair.

Irish Independent

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