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Third time lucky for Gordon Elliott and Davy Condon

By Richard Forristal

Mick Winters has conspired to deny Gordon Elliott and Davy Condon in the last two Guinness Galway Hurdles, so the absence of any runner from the shrewd Co Cork stable this year will doubtless be a source of some comfort to the Bayan team.

Cause Of Causes and Ulster-owned Flaxen Flare filled the runner-up berth for the duo in contrasting circumstances behind Rebel Fitz and Missunited respectively.

Both were progressive four-year-olds, and the year-older Bayan is on a similarly upward trajectory.

Elliott, whose Dirar finished third in 2010 and 2011, has earmarked today's fabled €250,000 showpiece for him since he went down fighting at Cheltenham in March.

The wily Meath handler is clearly intent on adding the Ballybrit event to his already distinguished haul, with Midnight Game and Takeyourcapoff also set to represent Elliott.

A field of 20 will contest what promises to be another thrilling edition of the great race.

The prize fund is down €10,000 but that certainly hasn't put off our neighbours across the water, with nine raiders set to try to emulate Overturn's 2010 coup.

Ulster great Tony McCoy has opted for Tony Martin's market leader Thomas Edison of JP McManus's four declarations, with the champion owner facing some rare competition from Sheikh Mohammed.

Newmarket-based John Ferguson oversees the Bloomfields operation, and the Sheikh's select jumping delegation has three on duty here.

Barry Geraghty, Noel Fehily and Sam Twiston-Davies have all been signed up for duty, joining 12 other riders in the search for a debut triumph.

Thomas Edison is two pounds higher than when struggling here on soft ground in 2013.

He has been disappointing over flights but his recent Flat win was encouraging for the Meath yard.

Ready Ballinrobe winner Plinth may have been hard for the prolific McCoy to spurn.

While the stats are against him as a four-year-old, he could be thrown in here on his winter form.

Bayan was a gallant third behind Whisper and Get Me Out Of Here in the Coral Cup when last seen over flights.

That is form that has worked out well, and the drop back to a fast-run two miles here isn't a concern.

He is three pounds higher but sneaks in nicely off 10st 12lb and will be spot on after a recent pipe-opening Flat win.

Rawnaq has also been minded for this and will love the ground.

Seventh off 134 in 2013, he was a fine third off 138 in the Greatwood at Cheltenham back in November.

Up to 140 now, he is also fit from a couple of pleasing placed efforts on the level.

Darwins Fox was an excellent second to Simenon at Tipperary. He remains progressive, has a nice weight and Davy Russell's booking is significant.

Parlour Games is a very interesting raider.

Listed class on the Flat, he is two from three over flights and Geraghty's presence up top is another eye-catching move.

But Bayan appeals as nap material on his hurdle return, with Rawnaq the threat.

Belfast Telegraph

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