Crossgar trainer Colin McBratney has had a successful season so far, headed by Ballyholland’s triumph in the Galway Plate, and should be in for a good day at Downpatrick.
Essifer has had his moments in much more subdued company and was successful at Downpatrick under Ruby Walsh earlier this year.
Essifer comes back again today and looks a good bet in the Denny Beginners’ Chase under Andrew McNamara who has had a high strike rate at Downpatrick recently.
Ruby Walsh will ride Club Oscar for his usual boss Willie Mullins in the same race and should be the big danger to the McBratney horse.
Walsh is engaged with his father Ted’s Buck Mulligan in the opening Tayto Maiden Hurdle at the Co Down track where he must have a big chance after finishing fourth when favourite at the last Downpatrick meeting.
Dungannon trainer Jim Lambe, who pulled off a 25-1 winner — Ecole D’Art — at Ayr on the Flat last weekend, has high hopes that Vivaldi will follow up and he appears to the main danger to Mulligan.
In the bumper race, Nina Carberry is in action once again and rarely seems to lose in this type of race. This time she is on Grace |N’ Favour for local trainer Brian Hamilton and takes on Lillian’s Secret handled by Mullins and ridden by his son Paddy.
It should be a fascinating contest between the pair, and young Paddy, who has as good a record as any round here, will be hard to beat.
Meanwhile, Caledon trainer Andy Oliver yesterday landed a double at Fairyhouse, In Some Respect (4-9) and Theother Haaf (20-1) doing the business.
Johnny Murtagh drew a blank from four rides on his return from a back injury.
His first ride was on Michael Halford's Sampers, who was third in the Ratoath Maiden, and he was then second on Dainty for David Wachman in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden.
But that was as good as it got as he was unplaced on the favourite Dragon's Den in the Ashbourne Nursery Handicap, while Wachman's Lost Generation was a disappointment in the Oldcastle Rated Race.
Murtagh took the time off from racing after sustaining the injury in a nasty fall at Dundalk on September 6.
“I was a bit tender when I returned originally, but the short break and physiotherapy have me back 100 per cent fit and I am looking forward to the weekend,” said Murtagh who rides Aidan O'Brien's Rip Van Winkle in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.