Down Royal Saturday: Respect the star on Down Royal’s big day4 min read
The future may be uncertain, but there will certainly be fireworks at Down Royal on Saturday.
13:55 Billecart-Salmon Handicap Hurdle
Dixie Lee has the look of one who will go under the radar here, but is taken to go close for in-form handler Dermot McLoughlin. An easy winner here from Holding Pattern in June, she ran a fine race to be third to a pair who got first run at Bellewstown the following month, in front of a subsequent winner, and she was sent off at 6/1 to win a valuable event at Killarney in August only to lose her action at halfway. The fact she has a “P” next to her name will lead most to write her off, but it’s clearly no indication of her ability, and she still appears on a workable mark having gone up just 2lb for the Bellewstown run.
14:30 JNWine.com Champion Chase
A cracking renewal, and no prisoners will be taken given that a number of these intending to make the running – in fact more than half the field led from the start in their most recent runs, and that should set things up nicely for a strong travelling hold-up horse, with Road To Respect taken to reverse last year’s form with Outlander on the forecast quicker ground. Noel Meade’s charge was much improved last season, and many felt he might have won a Gold Cup had Cheltenham not been hit by heavy rain in March. He finished fourth in the end, but Meade was adamant that the ground was a huge factor on the day, and he can take a rare opportunity to race on a sound surface and underline his claims to the 2019 Blue Riband.
Road To Respect
15:05 Mycarneedsa.com Chase
I’m a huge fan of Shattered Love, but she has disappointed more than once on good ground, and I can’t bring myself to back her here, while this is a quick turnaround for Peregrine Run after winning a weaker race at Wexford on Monday. Snow Falcon will be a big fancy after winning the Kerry National, but he was put firmly in his place by Monalee when the pair clashed in the Grade 1 Flogas Chase at Leopardstown in February before finishing second to Presenting Percy in the RSA at Cheltenham. It’s odd to hear so many people predict that the winner of that race will go on to land the 2019 Gold Cup, while the same people pour scorn on Monalee as a performer. It’s true that he won less than he promised last term, but a Grade 1 win and a second in the best race of the season for novices isn’t a bad haul, and I would happily back him to prove he’s 7lb superior to the Meade runner here. He fell twice as a novice which is a huge irony as he probably only made two mistakes of any note in all his races, and his jumping is usually a big asset.