Gold Cup king Bryan Cooper can be Master at Downpatrick
Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Bryan Cooper is the top jockey in action at Downpatrick today. The novice hurdle, despite attracting just five runners, is a tricky contest with all contenders holding claims with Cooper partnering Master Of Verse for Champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins.
Cooper's mount holds most appeal of the quintet, having opened his account over flights at Fairyhouse on his penultimate start.
Carrig Cathal, trained by Gordon Elliott with Jack Kennedy in the saddle, and carrying the Doran's Pride colours, could prove the principal danger while Cardinal Palace is the top rated in the race.
Banker Burke, Robin Des Mana and Atlantic Breaker are the trio with the strongest form claims in the opening maiden hurdle. The last named has twice finished runner-up on his most recent efforts at the track and represents Sligo handler Mark McNiff and jockey Derek Fox - the pair a formidable duo at the venue.
Genesta can claim the mares maiden hurdle. Trained by Mags Mullins with son Danny aboard, the daughter of Derby winner Generous boasts excellent form in recent races and looks the likely favourite. Hello Sweetie could supply the danger but has been absent since December and Aurora's Dream could provide a bigger threat.
Raglan Rose makes her hurdles debut for trainer Joseph O'Brien and Bryan Cooper partners the Christy Roche trained Brooklynn.
Magnetic Force bounced back to form when winning at Cork last Thursday but now carries top weight in the handicap hurdle. Force is a previous course winner and the penalty is counteracted by the use of Jonathon Moore's 5lbs allowance.
Personal Shopper, Persian Wind and L'Attesa can supply alternative value. The latter gets the vote and if repeating his effort when a close third at the Maze could prevail.
Personal Shopper keeps knocking on the door at the track and Persian Wind was a decent runner-up at Bellewstown last time.
Trainer Liz Doyle is enjoying a good season and her Emma Beag should be capable of justifying favouritism in the Joe Rea Memorial Hurdle. Blessed King and Wee Small Hours look the dangers with the majority of runners ex-point to pointers.
Jack Slade appears another good bet in the long distance handicap hurdle. The Noel Meade trained runner duly went one better at Bellewstown following a second at Down Royal and looks capable of a repeat success.
Western Goose was a 20/1 chance when winning at the course last month while Gavin Cromwell is represented by Scenic Star and, along with C&D winner Wandering Angus, has place prospects. Burrows Lane and Sweet Shirleen are the form duo in the finale with the later capable of providing Liz Doyle with a double on the day.
SELECTIONS: 3.05 Atlantic Breaker; 3.40 Master Of Verse; 4.15 Genesta; 4.50 L'Attesa; 5.25 Emma Beag; 6.00 Jack Slade; 6.30 Sweet Shirleen.