Belfast Telegraph

Listen here awhile

By Jimmy Walker

The front-running tactics of The Listener can see the grey take the James Nicholson Wine Merchant Champion Chase which tops the bill at Down Royal today.

Trained by Robert Alner, The Listener's chances have been enhanced with the non-appearance of twice-winner Beef or Salmon due to a hock injury.

The Listener hammered Beef or Salmon by eight lengths when winning the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown last Christmas before losing out to his old rival in the final strides of the Hennessy Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown last Februrary.

However, The Listener has no easy task up and has most to fear from Taranis from the Paul Nicholls yard.

The top English trainer is travelling witht he horse who has been supported for the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day and heads the weights for the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on November 17.

Taranis won at the Cheltenham Festival last March when lifting the Ryanair Chase and a repeat of that running would make him a fearsome opponent for any horse. Ruby Walsh has the mount and is sure to give Taranis every chance in the race. Walsh's genius is on show virtually every day in which he rides and I can visualise Ruby not giving up without a fight.

Walsh has never won the Nicholson Chase so he will be as keen as anybody to register a first success.

Down Royal's tight bends however, should be suited to The Listener's style of running and I can visualise him leading from start to finish.

It's a tall task to make all in any race but Down Royal is not a hard track in which to adopt these tactics.

Hi Cloy is the stablemate of Beef or Salmon and will represent trainer Michael Hourigan.

Hi Cloy has scored a few surprise wins in the past and he is capable of turning over even top contenders like we have today.

Forget The Past, trained by Michael O'Brien, at his best he would have to come into the reckoning while Justified was third last year and could finish in the first three yet again.

The Alner stable have gone to great pains to send over stable assistants to ensure that the going is to their liking, and their homework can pay off at the expense of Taranis.

The other big race on the card is the Killultagh Properties Chase which is a Grade 3 affair and here Jessica Harrington who seems to be winning everywhere these days, can score with Knight Legend who was successful at Punchestown last time out.

Mrs Harrington also runs Gazza's Girl and she too can reach the frame.

Snowy Morning trained by Willie Mullins also has a big chance but I'm confident that Knight Legend will give Mrs Harrington something to savour at the end of what looks like being a day of high class racing.

Belfast Telegraph


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