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Powerful Empire set to strike again

By Ron McKnight

Rise Of An Empire can conquer again at Downpatrick, top jockey Bryan Cooper once more on board. Noel Meade's charge won in style by seven lengths at the last Downpatrick fixture a fortnight ago under a classy ride from Cooper with Gordon Elliott's Faraway Mountain another three lengths behind.

The Navan handler should gain a repeat victory in the opener tonight and Elliott - leading trainer at the track - also runs John Monash which could prove a bigger danger than his stablemate.

Trainer Willie Codd indicated that a return to the course was the likely plan after Tellthemnuttin scored easily at the last meeting and, despite now carrying top weight in the handicap hurdle, is another capable of recording back-to-back successes.

Davy Russell is an eye catching booking for The Informer while Shabra's Bertolini has been consistently placed on recent starts and can again reach the frame.

In the maiden hurdle Whizzzey Rascal, Ainslie, Reetaj and Rainbow Shadow make most appeal. Elliott has declared five including Miro, a recent import from the flat. Whizzzey Rascal gets the vote.

Ballyfinboy gets the nod in the handicap chase.

Redclue could be another winner at the last fixture to gain a repeat success in the Friday Feeling Chase with Camilla's Wish the danger along with Lash It On.

Banbridge rider Mark O'Hare is due to be crowned Ulster Region Champion at tomorrow's point to point at Maralin and could endorse an excellent season by landing the hunter chase on Chosen Dream. Shake It Up is another contender having won at the venue last time.

The Storyteller can go one better after being beaten in a photo finish last time at the track but Brian Hamilton's Some Response could supply the danger.

Meanwhile Crossgar trainer Colin McBratney sends his stable star Marito to Stratford tonight for the longstanding prestigious hunter chase.

Marito has had to settle for second to On The Fringe in both the Cheltenham Festival Foxhunters and the Champion Hunter Chase at the Punchestown Festival and the trainer reports the horse "in great form".

Current champion rider Noel McParlan is in the saddle.

Downpatrick tips: 5.55 Rise Of An Empire 6.25 Tellthemnuttin 6.55 Whizzzey Rascal 7.25 Ballyfinboy 7.55 Redclue 8.25 Chosen Dream 8.55 The Storyteller

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