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Townend to grab his big chance as Walsh's deputy

By Ron McKnight

Irish champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins sends a strong team to Downpatrick tomorrow and should register success - with Paul Townend a very able deputy for Ruby Walsh.

Walsh has travelled to Australia to ride Bashboy in the Grand National in a bid to add to his Aintree, Irish, Welsh and Scottish National victories and former champion jump jockey Townend fills the void.

Listen Dear, with Townend aboard, can strike in the opening Lazy Sunday Hurdle.

The mare won her bumper at the course in June by a remarkable 37 lengths and will be well schooled over flights.

The locally-trained Itshard To No is another with course form and looks the danger to the likely favourite.

The Irish champion trainer is doubly represented in the Rated Hurdle with Childrens List and The Bosses Cousin.

The former can complete a double for Mullins and Townend while Crafty Codger is a rare runner at the venue for Kevin Prendergast having won a juvenile hurdle on his debut at Punchestown last November.

But the Gordon Elliott-trained Bank Bonus can give the selection most to do.

The Toals Bookmakers Hurdle appears a match between Ultimate Horseman and Westerner Lady.

The former has filled second on his last four starts including Sligo on Thursday evening, while the latter makes her hurdles debut for the Mullins/Townend combination and gets the nod.

The handicap hurdle is a complex affair with several holding claims. Whiskey Galore was a winner at Sligo on Thursday courtesy of a stewards inquiry.

Mark McNiff has an excellent strike record at the track and his Urban Dusk has been in good form while Authorative and the locally-trained Personal Shopper - denied just a head last time -warrant consideration.

Leading trainer at the course Elliott is doubly represented with The Absent Mare and Ullswater, the latter a recent addition to his stable.

Personal Shopper, trained in Ballyclare by Harry Smyth, always runs well at the track and can offer good each way value.

Thanks For Tea stands out in the Mares handicap hurdle and could supply Townend with another winner.

Abarta gets the vote to gain a repeat course victory in the long distance handicap hurdle.

Onemorezero, trained at Cullybackey by Ian Ferguson, looks capable of claiming the finale.

TOMORROW'S DOWNPATRICK TIPS: 2.35 Listen Dear 3.05 Childrens List 3.35 Personal Shopper 4.05 Thanks For Tea 4.35 Westerner Lady 5.05 Abarta 5.35 Onemorezero

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