Taghnabrick can hit target on gala day
Downpatrick racecourse today unveils its latest improvements while punters will be hoping to top up their tanks for the battle with bookmakers at next week's Cheltenham Festival.
There will be 200 free £5 bets, courtesy of Northern Ireland On-Course Bookmakers, to mark the opening of the new-look grandstand at today's fixture plus a Tennents promotion.
Taghnabrick, trained in Lisburn by George Stewart, is the value bet in the Shabra Charity Foundation – organised by Monaghan trainer Oliver Brady – hunter chase.
The Ulster stable is in form and the selection won a Punchestown point to point last month.
Ibetellingyoualie, winner of a Clonmel hunter chase and point to point on his last two starts, looks the likely favourite and danger.
Kanesh has been off the track since filling second place at the course last June while the locally trained Not Before Eight was beaten a nose here last December.
Onefortheroadmac finished fourth behind Cheltenham Foxhunters hope Tammys Hill at Wexford recently but was fifth behind Not Before Eight in December.
Omagh handler Mervyn Torrens could get on the scoreboard in the opener with Golden Firth, a reasonable fourth at Thurles in January, the dangers being likely favourite Faanan Aldaar and Drumgooland, the latter a winner of a bumper at the track.
Queen Of The Hill, Ma Belle Amie and Sitcom make most appeal in the mares maiden hurdle with the first named the mount of the talented Brian Cooper.
Top weight and favourite Goodtime Boy can justify the trip from Kilkenny for trainer Kieran Purcell in the novice handicap hurdle at the expense of Shanroe Society and locally trained Dayroy which has his first run in handicap company and Paul Carberry riding.
Pink Goddess is a winner and placed over the course and could score again in the handicap hurdle ahead of Miranour, runner-up at Down Royal in December.
Trainer Gordon Elliott and Paul Carberry combine with Barneys Hill in the handicap chase and the selection appears a banker.
Leading owners Alan and Ann Potts, who will have several contenders at next week's Cheltenham Festival, are doubly represented in the concluding bumper with ex Ulster point to pointer Bally Longford and Sizing Solution, the former looking good for victory.