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Fantastic Finea can get Ulster season off to flyer

By Ron McKnight

Finea, trained in Armagh by Keith Watson, can supply a local winner at Down Royal on the opening fixture of the Ulster racing season.

Finea has posted two solid placed efforts in recent starts and connections have booked teenage riding sensation Jack Kennedy for the mount in the most valuable race on the card, the Martinstown Chase for claiming riders, sponsored by JP Mc Manus.

King Blue is the obvious danger and filled third behind Flemenstorm at Punchestown last month.

Coolaghknock Glebe looks for a quick follow-up victory having won at Fairyhouse last weekend and the Christy Roche-trained runner looks the one to beat in the handicap hurdle.

Tocororo is the main danger having won at Fairyhouse last month and was narrowly denied at the track in August.

After Aspen holds solid place claims while the locally-trained pair Tyrone Tiger and Ranjaan warrant consideration - the latter formerly trained by Paul Nicholls and now based with Ballygowan handler Sammy Wilson.

Curragh trainer Roche could double up with Dragon Khan, a winner last time, if accounting for the locally trained Angus Milan in the novice handicap hurdle.

Altiepex, Flysimi and Hurricane Ivan make most appeal in the handicap chase.

Altiepex, trained by Gordon Elliott, despite carrying top weight gets the vote following a fluent victory last time.

The beginners chase - run in memory of former leading owner and hotelier Rodney Watson - appears a match between Futuramic and Venitien De Mai.

The latter finished third in a decent contest at the course at the Boxing Day fixture, however Futuramic has been tackling superior company and finished runner-up to No More Heroes at Punchestown in October. A repeat of that effort would suffice to score.

Top trainer Elliott holds the key to the opening Sean Graham Hurdle, being represented by Steamboat Bill and Kings Line.

The former finished third at the course in December prior to filling fourth at Naas with his stable companion in arrears.

Larne trainer Stuart Crawford has a trio engaged with Billy Billy looking the pick having finished in third place on his hurdling debut following winning a bumper and point to point.

A Touch Of Sparkle and Cherry Bomb have shown promise in bumpers and make their debut over flights.

The locally-trained pair Infrontofthejudge and Rock On Westie filled second and third places at the venue in December and again hold place prospects.

Call Vinnie, trained by Dermot Weld with Davy Russell booked to ride, is a very notable runner and the point to point winner, having failed to win a bumper, makes his debut over hurdles.

Only Satinspar, having finish third in a Naas bumper, boasts form in the finale.

She's A Star, Sanibel Island, Innocent Verdict and Mullagh Magic are the principal newcomers to consider.

DOWN ROYAL TIPS: 1.15 Steamboat Bill 1.45 Coolaghknock Glebe 2.15 Dragon Khan 2.50 Altiepix 3.25 Futuramic 4.00 Finea 4.35 Innocent Verdict

Belfast Telegraph


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