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Marlbrook can be real Christmas cracker at Down Royal

By Ron McKnight

Published 24/12/2015

Owner JP McManus
Owner JP McManus

Marlbrook can get punters in the Festive mood in the most valuable race on Down Royal's big Boxing Day card, the opening EBF Beginners Chase.

The JP McManus-owned Marlbrook is trained by Colm Murphy and was running a fine race and leading but, following a mistake, was forced to pull up at Navan in a superior race.

Gordon Elliott supplies the likely favourite with Noble Endeavour - consistently placed in good company and handles the prevailing heavy going.

Venitien De Mai was denied an opportunity when Clonmel was partially cancelled on Tuesday and is another for the shortlist while the locally-trained pair Nosey Box and Dr Moloney might reward place bets.

The Armstrong Memorial Handicap Chase is an open affair, however Sunsettorise could offer the value bet following a runner-up spot at Navan earlier this month behind the progressive Nickname Exit.

The hat-trick seeking Moonlane Lane looks the likely favourite while the James Lambe-trained Cinder Rua appears the pick of several local runners.

Marito, trained in Crossgar by Colin McBratney, can claim the Silks@downroyal Hunter Chase despite the presence of Noble Prince, runner-up in the Punchestown Champion Hunter Chase last season to On The Fringe, winner of the Foxhunters at the Cheltenham Festival.

Not Before Eight, third to Marito at Kirkistown point-to-point, has place claims but multiple points winner Current Exchange is the danger to the main pair.

Westend Star, Zip Wyatt and El Vasco appear the trio to focus on in the EBF Maiden Hurdle.

The first named gets the vote following an excellent Navan effort last time while Illuminati makes his hurdling debut for Downpatrick trainer Brian Hamilton and Rock On Westie - winner of his sole points start in April - represents local trainer Suzy Barkley, who has a knack of springing surprise big price winners at her local venue.

Twenty runners line up for the Dark Horse Hurdle with Lip Service and Bel Ami De Sivola making most appeal.

The first named, trained by Tony Martin, warrants respect after his latest outing but Nina Carberry travels north for the mount on Noel Meade's Bel Ami De Sivola which is a major plus.

Danielle's Journey, trained near Larne by Stuart Crawford, could prove a major force if handling the testing conditions while the locally-owned Mountain Kingdom ran extremely well on his hurdling debut but disappointed last time and is another with reservations on the current going.

The Martinstown Hurdle is a complex affair, but Sunrae Shadow could supply a locally-owned winner. The selection is owned by Ballyclare-based Margaret Corr and trained by Meade, and has shown promise in recent efforts.

Solar Heat, Jeremy's Jet, Balkinstown and Skellig Rocks also enter calculations.

Avellino could provide another locally-owned winner in the concluding Tote bumper having been noted following a fine debut effort at Fairyhouse.

The selection is owned by Draperstown-based Pat Conway, who has had several high-profile horses, and is trained by Dermot McLaughlin.

Annihilate represents Elliott and top amateur Nina Carberry while A Touch Of Sparke can improve on his debut at the track for Crawford and Ballyoptic - representing Ballymena trainer Ian Ferguson - has decent points form.

It promises to be an intriguing card in front of a bumper crowd.

DOWN ROYAL TIPS: 12.25 Marlbrook, 1.00 Sunsettorise, 1.30 Marito, 2.00 Westend Star, 2.30 Bel Ami De Sivola, 3.00 Sunrae Shadow, 3.30 Avellino

Belfast Telegraph

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