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Teacher's Pet can be top of the class in National bid


Winning team: Luke Dempsey and Teacher’s Pet are fancied at Downpatrick tomorrow
Winning team: Luke Dempsey and Teacher’s Pet are fancied at Downpatrick tomorrow

By Ron McKnight

A limited field of 10 should provide a nevertheless open contest in tomorrow's £40,000 Ulster Grand National at Downpatrick, sponsored by Toals Bookmakers under the local company's banner.

Leading Irish owner JP McManus enjoyed a successful Cheltenham Festival and his colours are taken to prevail again with Teacher's Pet, trained by Philip Dempsey and partnered by the handler's son Luke.

The selection is a consistent mare having won six races but notably twice at this track and should find the marathon event ideal.

Meath trainer Gordon Elliott is doubly represented by Out Sam and Space Cadet. The former shoulders top weight but has the assistance of Davy Russell in the saddle and finished third in the race last year behind stable companion Poorman's Hill.

Space Cadet finished third in the Thyestes Chase and runner-up in the Leinster National last year but has been out of form in recent efforts and is fitted with first time blinkers.

Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins has Undressed engaged but the horse has pulled up in all three of his most recent starts.

Tongie, with top female jockey and Cheltenham Festival winner Rachael Blackmore aboard, has claims to consideration but more rain would assist as Blackmore's mount revels in testing conditions.

Logical Song is a four-time winner but has been absent from action since November 2017 while Gold Cup winning jockey Paul Townend is a notable booking on the consistent Danse Away.

Teacher's Pet is taken to deny Out Sam and Danse Away in Downpatrick's annual feature.

Racing gets under way with the Red Mills Hurdle in which Kalum River, Jeremy's Dream and Seeyouinvinnys appear the trio to focus on while Barry Geraghty's booking for the Gavin Cromwell-trained Lady Ischia is noteworthy, being the top rider's sole mount at the meeting.

Templepatrick's Sloan family are represented in the WKD Hurdle, which they sponsor, by the Elliott-trained Count Simon, a runner-up at Naas last time with Kulper Belt, from the same stable, having claims and Laverteen appearing the form danger.

However previous course winner Andratx could offer the value bet in the contest.

From Eden has solid form credentials in the Coors Hurdle and is taken to score for the Elliott team with Cappuccino Man and the locally-trained British Art supplying the dangers.

The Jim Dreaper-trained Slemish returned to action after an absence to finish runner-up in an Armagh point to point but still looks the one to beat in the Tote Handicap Chase with Last Garrison the danger.

Local jockey Declan Lavery was successful in his appeal against a riding ban at the Cheltenham Festival and partners the Brian Hamilton-trained Tareeshar in the hunter chase.

Willie Mullins provides the likely favourite, Billaway, with the trainer's son Patrick aboard - however Like A Demon's effort when third at Down Royal behind a pair of above average horses looks the pick on form.

The concluding bumper with just seven declared looks a match between Multifactorial and Fasola Tido - the latter, representing team Mullins, just preferred.

It promises to be an intriguing day's racing.

TOMORROW'S DOWNPATRICK TIPS: 2.15 Kalum River, 2.45 Andratx, 3.20 From Eden, 3.50 Teacher's Pet, 4.25 Slemish, 5.00 Like A Demon, 5.30 Fasola Tido.

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