Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Dark’s bright chance at Down Royal

Tomorrow sees the final day of the three-day Down Royal Ulster Derby meeting and the feature race should see Noel Made take the Galway Plate Trial Chase with Dark Artist.

Colin McBratney has his recent winner Carsonstown Boy in the Tote Ireland Hurdle and should begin the day with a win.

Mister Lucky represents Brian Hamilton and is a consistent sort who should run well in the Hamilton and Kirk Handicap Hurdle.

Look Officer, trained by David Wachman, will attract plenty of attention in the Duke Of York Handicap over a mile and a quarter. This looks highly competitive but Wachman has a good record here and should have the edge over his big rival Ger Lyons’ runner Blue Turk.

As for today’s Ulster Derby, Jim Bolger who had a double at Leopardstown on Thursday night should continue the good form by winning the Specsavers Ulster Derby with Coolcullen Times.

This event has always been up Bolger’s street for he has never had a runner here that has run badly, and since the Derby became a handicap, Bolger’s runners have featured prominently with a sprinkling of wins to add to his long list of successes in Group 1 races.

Bolger may not regard the Ulster Derby as a big part of his achievements but like everyone else, he likes a winner and Coolcullen Times has scored three times in a row, the last at the Curragh which followed up on the all-weather wins at Dundalk.

Yorkshire trainer Mark Johnston has left in Robby Bobby who was eighth behind Australia Day at Sandown recently.

Johnston has had runners in the Ulster Derby back in the late 80s and has supported the race on-and-off since.

The big name in the field is of course, trainer Aidan O’Brien, still on a high after Yeats’s record-breaking success at Royal Ascot.

He runs Changingoftheguard who won a Navan maiden last Friday and it would be obvious to pick this one but while O’Brien sending a horse up north is significant, it does not guarantee he will be first past the post.

The race is wide open as all handicaps should be and Coolcullen Times, with a handy weight of 8-04, is the selection.

O’Brien also has a runner in the European Breeders Fund Maiden with Crowfoot who should oblige. Earlier on the card Ger Lyons who usually has a success or two at Down Royal, should score with Bada Bling in the opener — the Auction Maiden.

Sativa has some good form and has a big chance for Joanna Morgan over seven furlongs in the three-year-old handicap.

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