SHAMROCK: Champion Chase day at Down Royal is always a special occasion and, besides the Grade 1 contest, there’s plenty of other good racing to look forward to.
A seven-race card begins at 12:53pm with a three-year-old hurdle over 2m1f. Cougar scored with far more authority than his winning margin suggested on hurdling debut at Gowran last month, but that form hasn’t worked out. Gordon Elliott has tended to run a good one in here, winning the last two renewals with the high-class Quilixios and Fil Dor, so it’s likely his new recruit from France, Old Victoria, could be a cut above the rest.
The following 2m1f maiden hurdle (1:23pm) has been won by names such as Envoi Allen and Mighty Potter in recent years and it’s likely to be a contest that will prove informative for the rest of the season. With so little form to go on it’s hard to know, but Gordon Elliott could once again be the man to look to as he runs €300,000 purchase Foxfire Glow.
Next up is a Grade B handicap hurdle (1:58pm), again over a trip of 2m1f. Tony Martin’s Nibiru ran a great race on the flat when finishing a close third in a competitive Leopardstown handicap two weeks ago. Before that he had cruised to victory over hurdles at Navan off a mark of 109. While this is a stronger race, he should still be capable of getting involved off an eight-pound higher mark.
Down Royal’s Champion Chase (2:32pm) has seen fantastic winners down the years, including last year’s winner Frodon, who got the better of Galvin in a driving finish. Galvin has been given the same preparation this year, after winning a Grade 3 at Punchestown last month, and should be capable of going one better this time around. While soft ground might not be ideal, his fitness advantage over stablemate Conflated could be the difference.
Only four run in the following Grade 2 Eventsec Chase (3:07pm) over 2m3½f, but it looks a fascinating contest nonetheless. Fury Road and Vanillier are the class acts here, but this trip looks short of their best so it could be worth taking them on with the Willie Mullins-trained Fighter Allen. This son of Vision D’Etat has a good record fresh and should be more suited to the sharp nature of the track and trip than his rivals.
It’s competitive fare in the 3m handicap chase (3:40pm), where Final Orders is likely to be popular after winning comfortably last time. The one to be with though could well be Archies Charm, the mount of Brian Cooper. This seven-year-old is lightly raced over fences after only four starts and signed off last season with an easy win over this course and distance on his handicap debut. He looks to have been given a prep run for this race and should be capable of a good showing.
Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott again look to hold the aces in the concluding bumper (4:10pm). Elliott’s King Of Kingsfield was a 30-length winner in a point at Port Rush back in March, but it’s instead the Mullin’s Honky Tonk that makes most appeal. This Walk In The Park gelding is related to the stable’s former Grade 1 stalwart Arctic Fire and could be capable of enhancing his legacy here.