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Love Rory to triumph in Ulster National

By Ron McKnight

The Ulster Grand National, sponsored by Toals Bookmakers, features on the first fixture of the new season at Downpatrick tomorrow.

Love Rory gets the each way selection in a very competitive renewal to give owner JP McManus and trainer Enda Bolger repeat victories in the historic contest.

The Limerick trainer landed the prize last year with Federici which attempts a repeat success but is now trained in Britain by Donald McCain.

Leading Irish jumps owner McManus won the feature in 2015 with Riverside City trained by Gordon Elliott who is doubly represented in this year's renewal by Definite Ruby and Captain Von Trappe.

The former is the mount of teenage riding sensation Jack Kennedy with Definite Ruby a dual Punchestown winner in his last three starts.

Folsom Blue is the likely favourite and is trained by Mouse Morris who captured the Aintree Grand National last year with Rule The World. His runner finished runner-up in a Grand National trial last time but has been racing on heavy ground. However, the surface will be perfect.

Larne trainer Stuart Crawford saddles Baby Bach having won the race in 2014 with Hidden Horizons.

Anseanachai Cliste, Topper Thornton and Angus Milan are other local hopes.

The locally trained pair I'm An Izz Wizz and James make most appeal in the Racing Post Chase with the former preferred.

The hunter chase is another very competitive contest.

Enda Bolger has a trio engaged while Clondaw Frisby, Jammin Masters, Keepbachwilliam and Sizingdowntherhine all warrant consideration. Equal Status, one of Bolger's team, gets the vote.

Toccata Blue and Icario look the principals in the opening WKD Hurdle - sponsored by leading Ulster owners Joe and Pat Sloan who also endorse the Most Appropriately Dressed Competition.

Holly Flight, the mount of Denis O'Regan, is a notable newcomer with trainer Alan Fleming having recorded Cheltenham Festival success last week with Tully East.

The Guinness Rated Hurdle has attracted above average types with Kilfenora, Derulo, Sanibel Island and On Impulse engaged while Shadow Catcher - owned by the Sloan family - ran very well last month at Thurles.

Elliott has collected the Leading Trainer title at the course for the past three years and his runners can never be ignored.

Dawerann can provide another victory in the Roadstud Hurdle if accounting for Mountain Kingdom trained by Crossgar's Colin McBratney, another with a high strike rate at the venue.

Elliott can double up in the finale with Coeur De Beauchine, the main threat being Camaro, trained beside the track by Brian Hamilton who registered debut success with the selection prior to his sale.

TOMORROW'S DOWNPATRICK TIPS: 2.20 Toccato Blue 2.50 Derulo 3.20 Dawerann 3.50 Love Rory (ew) 4.20 I'm An Izz Wizz (double) 4.50 Equal Status 5.20 Coeur De Beauchine (nap)

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