Sublime day in prospect but Samcro the crowd favourite
Despite an increase in value to £50,000, just five runners go to post for the WKD Hurdle feature on the first session of the annual Down Royal November festival today.
Coeur Sublime gets the vote after the Gordon Elliott trained runner won on his hurdling debut at last year's festival and finished runner up in the Triumph Hurdle for connections in March.
Elliott also has declared Coko Beach which finished second to Band Of Outlaws at the Cheltenham Festival so holds a major hand. The Joseph O'Brien trained Triplicate is closely rated with the Elliott duo and is another major player.
The Grade 3 Mares Hurdle, despite just seven runners, is an open affair. The Tom Mullins trained Tara Dylan can collect, with the mare's effort at Listowel when fourth to David's Charm being excellent form. Sand Fly, Penny Out and Daylight Katie are the dangers, the latter trained by Elliott, who could dominate the meeting.
The main event for everyone will be the re-appearance of Samcro, making his chasing debut.
The star youngster failed to win last season, including on this day in the featured hurdle, but a lung infection was later found, and with the horse having undergone a wind operation, the trainer is excited and has had this race as the target for some time.
Trappist Monk, also making his debut over fences and owned by the local Hunt family, is a danger - likewise Myth Buster, despite failing to win over hurdles.
A clear round for Samcro, already a point to point winner, should please connections and racegoers.
Bois De Clamart, Enjoi D'Allen, Fury Road and Face The Odds form the short list in the opener - the latter trained by Noel Meade for the Belfast Hunt family is taken to give Sean Flanagan a winner on his return to action following his Downpatrick fall.
The Allianz Handicap Hurdle boasts the biggest field of the day. Ballymadun, Classic Concorde and Open To The World all have solid form, while Balgowlah, a Downpatrick winner last time out, has been aimed at this race and appears best of numerous local contenders.
Elliott is doubly represented in the handicap chase with Global Jackpot and Mrs Lovett. However, today's good/yielding ground condition could see Act In Time return to form for trainer Padraig Roche and owner JP McManus.
Streets Of Doyen, Powerful Ted and Above The City, along with newcomer Pencilfulloflead, look the prime quartet in the finale. The latter is yet again trained by Gordon Elliott for former rider, and now one of the trainer's right-hand men, Simon McGonagle, and is taken to crown a major day for the trainer.
DOWN ROYAL: 12.40 Face The Odds, 1.10 Tara Dylan, 1.45 Coeur Sublime, 2.20 Ballymadun, 2.55 Samcro, 3.30 Act In Time, 4.05 Pencilfulloflead.