Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Oxx is strong contender for Down Royal victory

Trainer John Oxx and jockey Frank Berry are an effective combination when they head for Down Royal.

They should be on the mark tonight when Mourad runs in Her Majesty’s Plate, which is arguably the classiest race held annually at the track.

Last time out Mourad won at Gowran Park by four and a half lengths from the even money favourite New Zealand who later boosted the form when winning last weekend at Kilarney.

Mourad faces tough opposition with Dirar, trained by Michael Halford, an easy winner at Downpatrick on August Bank Holiday.

On the strength of that run - although the opposition is weak - Dirar should go close.

Trainer Willie Mullins has a terrific record at Down Royal on the flat having won two Ulster derbies. Ballyhaunis may get into the first three especially with Declan McDonogh in the saddle.

Dermot Weld run Consulate has had snippets of form but doesn’t look as good as Mourad.

Jim Bolger has a good record in this race and he could go close with Teacht an Earraig who will be ridden by Kevin Manning.

It looks a hot enough contest, but it’s hard to ignore the claims of Mourad who should go in for Oxx and Berry.

Mullins may start the ball rolling with the Patriarch Game who ran well at Wexford last weekend and runs in the Ulster Bank Business Banking maiden hurdle.

Marvyn Torrens has had a success for Camulos at Downpatrick and this may be repeated in the Ulster Bank handicap hurdle, with the danger coming from Balakar who is trained by Jim Lambe who has had a great deal of success this season.

Trainer Edward Lynam generally wins one of the sprints at Down Royal and he looks to have good claims with Rosie Riveter in the seven furlongs Ulster Bank Claiming race.

In the Ulster Bank Nursery Kevin Prendergast may be worth following with Rantavan Wood who will be ridden by Declan McDonogh.

Selection: 4.35 The Patriach Game; 5.05 Canulos; 5.35 Rosie Riveter; 6.05 Rantavan Wood; 6.35 Mourad; 7.05 Strident; 7.35 Pass the Vodka.

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