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Peerless Pires looks set to score big at Down Royal

By Ron McKnight

The Kerry Foods Hurdle at Down Royal tonight is an above average contest – a rated race for horses rated 123 or less.

The Tony Martin trained Pires gets the vote following an excellent effort at the Galway Festival when beaten half a length by the useful Fosters Cross over fences. The selection is also a C&D winner while rising riding star Shane Shortall claims a valuable 5lbs.

Sir Ector, trained by James Lambe, finished third on the flat on his penultimate start at the Maze prior to filling the same position in a good Galway handicap and the local horse landed his biggest prize to date at Down Royal when winning the 2013 Ulster Derby. Barry Geraghty takes the mount for the Blackwater based trainer.

The event is not a two horse race with Willie Mullins doubly represented by Wood Breizh and capable of improvement while Primroseandblue flopped at Downpatrick recently in a much more lowly contest.

Gordon Elliott's runners can never be dismissed and Moss Street, a dual winner last month,, has solid each way claims.

Cabarete gets a confident vote in the opening Coors Maiden Hurdle with the Aidan Fogarty trained runner having twice filled second in the two juvenile hurdle races run this season. The penultimate effort at Roscommon saw Cabarete have several of today's rivals in arrears.

High Expectations could prove the better of Gordon Elliott's pair – the trainer having recorded doubles at both Downpatrick and Cartmel on Monday. Verawal, despite a year's absence, represents Irish Champion trainer Willie Mullins and former Champion jockey Paul Towend, and the son of Sinndar looks the likely favourite.

Storm Away, What Lies Ahead, Hard Fought and Pale Face are a quartet with placed form over hurdles and warrant consideration in the Mares Maiden Hurdle with the first named renewing her partnership with top jockey Davy Russell – the pair having finished second at Ballinrobe earlier this month. What Lies Ahead from Willie McCreery's in-form stable is hard to separate from the selection.

The Handicap Hurdle is an open affair with recent winners Glen Orchy Lad, Valours Minion, and Blue Ridge Lane catching the eye, the last named just preferred while It's All an Act was beaten a long way when runner-up at Downpatrick on Monday.

The 'Shark' Hanlon trained Clondaw Farmer, despite making his hurdling debut, can claim the Tayto Hurdle. A high-class bumper horse, including winning at Galway last time, the selection has previous point to point experience.

Ram Them All and Redrobin could be the pair to fight for places.

Locally owned Bose Ikard, trained by Noel Meade, is rated 17lbs more over fences and could take advantage of his hurdles mark in the Walkers Snacks Hurdle where Doc Hollywood, I C Gold and May Dullea also warrant consideration. Carmels Boy, trained at Loughbrickland by Neil McKnight, having finished second at the track in June has place claims.

Locally trained pair Topper Thornton and Our Sox could dominate the finale. The first named finished third to Clondaw Farmer at Galway and represents Crossgar trainer Colin Mc Bratney while the Brian Hamilton trained Our Sox showed improved form when fourth at Roscommon last time.

SELECTIONS: 4.50 Cabarete; 5.20 Storm Ahead; 5.50 Pires; 6.20 Blue Ridge Lane; 6.50 Clondaw Farmer; 7.20 Bose Ikard; 7.50 Topper Thornton.

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