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Double up for value as the A-team look to be bankers

By Ron McKnight

The Gordon Elliott-trained Apple's Jade proved a star of the juvenile hurdling division last season when trained by Willie Mullins and can win the first-day feature at Down Royal, the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle.

A winner of Grade 1 contests at the Aintree and Punchestown Festivals, Ruby Walsh gets the mount with Gigginstown's retained jockey, Bryan Cooper still sidelined.

Elliott said: "She's as fit as I can get her at home and has schooled very well. It looks her race to lose."

Henry De Bromhead, who won the race last term with the Gigginstown-owned Identity Thief, supplies the danger with Petit Mouchoir, owned by Michael O'Leary, twice a runner-up in Grade 1 races having made a winning debut locally at a Kirkistown point to point in 2014 for Elliott.

Airlie Beach is another banker in the supporting feature, the EBF Lough Construction Mares Novice Hurdle where Willie Mullins is attempting to complete a hat-trick of victories in the race and giving the owners, Supreme Racing Club, back to back wins.

The Mullins mare is unbeaten in her five starts but steps up in class in today's Grade 3 event.

Shattered Love, third in the Aintree Champion bumper prior to winning over hurdles on her seasonal debut at Tipperary last month, supplies the danger.

Joseph O'Brien, who is in America for the Breeders Cup, runs Rosshaven Lady which opened her account over hurdles last week, while Little Folke, trained by Henry De Bromhead is certain to improve on her hurdles debut when beaten a head.

Miss Eyecatcher has won her last three races - all bumpers - and the former pointer makes her hurdling debut with former champion jockey Paul Townend in the saddle and could represent each way value.

However, a double on the A-team of Apple's Jade and Airlie Beach is recommended with the pair likely to be short odds.

Champion jockey Walsh and Elliott will also have expectations of success in the opening Eventsec Hurdle when Monbeg Notorious makes his hurdling debut.

However, local connections are well represented and Elliott has booked Barry Geraghty for The Storyteller, owned by the Sloan family who sponsor today's feature race.

Belfast's Hunt family are represented by Moulin a Vent, while Rancher Lass was an impressive point to point winner at Dundalk prior to disappointing in a bumper and runs in the Comber based-Murdoch family's longstanding colours and Castlehume is owned by a Fermanagh based syndicate.

Noel Meade, though, has his team in top form and Moulin A Vent could offer better value than the favourite.

The locally trained pair Better Back Bob and Presenting Julio have recent winning form and both go in the Allianz Handicap Hurdle, with the former, a festival winner in 2014, scoring over fences at Downpatrick last time while the latter was a winner at Stratford.

The Ian Ferguson-trained, Steel's Cotton finished runner up over hurdles at Downpatrick in March but Wingoldandwearit and Wolfslair make most appeal with the last named making its handicap debut.

Notification, following a good effort last time, looks the likely favourite but hasn't won in two years so Wingoldandwearit gets the vote to score for Sandra Hughes.

Gordon Elliott supplies half the field in the Beginners Chase and all have claims. Woodford Island, in the famous Beef Or Salmon colours, should prove best of the trio but Art Of Payroll could supply Sandra Hughes with a double following a good second last time at Punchestown.

Elliott and the Sloan family supply the top weight in the Robinson Cleaning Chase with Realt Mor which is still engaged in tomorrow's feature.

In a tricky contest, Arthur Moore is taken to get on the scoreboard with Mitebeall For Luck.

Dixie Lee impressed when winning at the track on St Patrick's day for Draperstown owner Pat Conway and gets the selection for a repeat victory in the concluding bumper.

SELECTIONS: 12.45 Moulin A Vent 1.15 Airlie Beach [double] 1.50 Apple's Jade [nap] 2.25 Wingoldandwearit [each way] 3.00 Art Of Payroll 3.35 Mitebeall Forluck 4.05 Dixie Lee

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