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James set to home in on victory

By Ron McKnight

James looks the banker at Down Royal's big St Patrick's Day fixture today.

The youngster is already the winner of a Downpatrick hunter chase and finished fourth in the big hunter chase on Irish Hennessy Gold Cup day when Tammys Hill claimed the prize prior to landing the Cheltenham Festival Foxhunters on Friday.

James is trained by Ian Ferguson in Ballymena and should prevail if accounting for Davy From Milan, a narrow runner-up in a Gowran Park hunter chase last time.

Toner D'Oudairies and Bog Warrior both bypassed last week's Cheltenham Festival.

The duo are owned by Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary as is Make A Track – so the leading owner under his Gigginstown Stud banner has half the runners in the feature chase.

Toner d'Oudairies, trained by Gordon Elliott who was in the Cheltenham winners enclosure on Friday with Tiger Roll, is top rated 152 and has solid recent form.

Bog Warrior, rated 150, had been absent for a year on returning but unseated his rider when favourite at Gowran although is held in the highest regard by trainer Tony Martin who recorded a Festival success on Friday with Savello.

Seabass, trained by Ted Walsh, is interesting – third in the Aintree Grand National in 2012 and again entered in next month's spectacular, the horse made his seasonal debut when runner-up in a Fairyhouse hunter chase to Warne.

Bog Warrior gets the vote to return to winning ways in a race with four Aintree Grand National entrants, the big race on April 5.

Racing gets under way with an open looking maiden hurdle. Balmont Flyer makes his debut over flights while Merrion Row has placed efforts to his credit. However Black Spot On, trained by John Woods in Armagh, with three solid placed efforts could supply a local success.

The handicap hurdle for claiming riders is a very tricky affair. Jim Bowie, running in the Beef Or Salmon colours of owner Joe Craig and trained in Armagh by James Lambe, could prove good enough if repeating his fourth place a couple of starts ago.

Maple Valley Gold from Liam Lennon's Cheltenham Foxhunters winning stable – James Smyth rode Tammys Hill to victory at the Festival on Friday – also warrants consideration.

TODAY'S DOWN ROYAL TIPS: 1.45 Black Spot On 2.15 Jim Bowie (e/w) 2.45 Annie Oakley 3.15 Bog Warrior 3.45 Vasco Du Mee 4.15 James (nap) 4.45 Riviera Sun

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