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It’s been a relatively quiet few months on the jumping front for Joseph O’Brien, but hopefully the Piltown handler can win the opening maiden hurdle at Down Royal this Thursday. BATTLE OF ACTIUM should appreciate the step-up in trip today having previously won a 3m point-to-point for Colin Bowe at Necarne.
The Gigginstown-owned five-year-old steps beyond 2m for the first-time under rules following two nice bumper runs and a third-place finish in a maiden hurdle at Naas last month. That was a decent enough performance behind Gabynako and he should run well here under jockey Donagh Meyler.
Elsewhere, Glens Finale drops down in trip slightly for Gordon Elliott, who has managed to win three of the previous five renewals of this race. Fun Light, also running for O’Brien team should need the run on his reappearance, having finished behind The Bosses Oscar at Leopardstown last Christmas.
The purple patch for Gavin Cromwell can continue with victory for VINTAGE PROSSECO in the maiden hurdle under Jonathan Moore today. The son of Arctic Cosmos finished third here at Down Royal on his rules debut behind Sir Gerhard in a bumper on Halloween afternoon. He returned last month and won impressively at Limerick under Patrick Mullins with the form boosted this week.
Paddy The Wire, who finished fourth at Down Royal managed to win a bumper at Catterick for Denis Hogan on Tuesday. Gelee Blanche has some experience over hurdles following two third-place efforts for Willie Mullins, while Moonshot is another horse who should reach the frame. The Crawford runner outran his odds to finish a decent third behind Keskonrisk at Fairyhouse last month.
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Adrian McGuinness has enjoyed a fantastic 2020 and hopefully WINSTON WOLFE can provide the team with another winner just before Christmas. The six-year-old was busy for Peter Fahey on the Flat before moving to the Lusk-based handler in early November before two recent spins over hurdles. He wasn’t beaten far when fifth at Fairyhouse last month before improving a place and finishing fourth at Clonmel in early December.
The ground and trip are no concerns, and the son of Sir Prancealot runs off a rating of 98 again with jockey Simon Torrens claiming off a nice 2lbs to help his chances slightly. His form on the level behind Make Good at Navan in October reads well, with John McConnell’s runner winning again in impressive fashion over hurdles at Cheltenham last weekend.
THE BIG STORY was very much an eye-catcher when staying on for second-place on debut at Punchestown for Noel Meade in late October. The form of that race is working out nicely with both the third and fourth horses, Joseph Conrad and Magic Tricks winning since for Gordon Elliott at Cork and Navan respectively.
With that experience under his belt and the previous good record on Noel Meade in this race – winning two of the previous three renewals, it’s hard to look past the son of Arcadio today. Enniskerry is without a doubt the biggest danger following his two second place finishes behind the useful Letsbeclearaboutit at Tipperary and Punchestown.
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