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Ruby Walsh all set to sparkle at Down Royal's Ulster Derby Festival

By Ron McKnight

Ruby Walsh is just one of the star names on show on the opening night of Down Royal's Ulster Derby Festival.

Walsh takes the mount on He's Our Man in the featured Galway Plate Trial Chase.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has a trio engaged with top weight Mr Cracker, trained by Michael Hourigan, taken to confirm running with Uncle Tom Cobley, the pair having filled first and second at Listowel earlier this month.

Leading Irish jumps owner JP McManus has Fever Pitch in the race, while Johannisberger, Monastrell and Fisher Bridge all represent Ulster owners.

Fever Pitch gets the vote with Mr Cracker and He's Our Man the dangers.

Local handlers have good runners in the opener with three-time winner this year Twin Plan representing Armagh's James Lambe, while Honey Bach – a winner last month and beaten a neck last time – runs for Downpatrick-based Brian Hamilton.

However the Willie Mullins-trained Tasitiocht finished third behind her stable companion and top class Glen's Melody at Fairyhouse in February and a repeat of that effort should be good enough, while Sitcom has won two of her last three starts.

Bob Le Beau made an encouraging hurdling debut when fourth at the course last time, Old Pride finishing runner-up.

The latter, trained by Tom Taaffe, can confirm placing in the maiden hurdle while the locally-owned Lagan Canal – representing the Tony Martin and Ruby Walsh combination – was a winner at Perth two weeks ago on good/firm going.

The conditions hurdle could provide a close match between Sweet My Lord and Darwins Fox.

The latter has been placed over fences and on the Flat in recent efforts, while the former represents the powerful Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh partnership and is by far the top rated runner. The locally-owned and Gordon Elliott-trained Shadow Catcher could have place claims, the same applying to The Way We Were.

The handicap hurdle is an intriguing affair with Peace In The West, Dick Dundee, I Never Knew That and Miranour a quartet to warrant consideration with the latter a Downpatrick winner last time for his Newry connections.

Banbridge trainer Gerry Cosgrave is doubly represented in the beginners chase with the talented Mount Collah and also I Am Great.

The Noel Meade-trained Blue Cannon won the Ulster Cesarewitch at the venue last year and makes his chasing debut.

Nearest The Pin is another Martin/Walsh runner and likely favourite despite being unraced since October last year.

Maller Tree is open to improvement but Pass The Hat could offer the best each way value.

The four previous winners – Mister Nibbles, Devils Paintbrush, Well Read Man and Nathans Pride – will dominate the bumper.

The highly regarded Nathans Pride could deny Mister Nibbles.

TONIGHT'S TOP TIPS: 5.30 Tasitiocht 6.05 Old Pride 6.35 Darwins Fox 7.10 Miranour 7.40 Pass The Hat (e/w) 8.15 Fever Pitch 8.45 Nathans Pride (nap)

Belfast Telegraph


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