Walsh chases championship
Ruby primed to overtake Townend this weekend at Gowran and Downpatrick
CURRENT championship leader Mark Walsh is into his third week on the sidelines following a fall from Winter Breeze at Thurles last month and although yet to be overtaken by either of his pursuits Paul Townend or Ruby Walsh, the latter looks to have a strong book of rides to close the gap this weekend.
The injured Walsh, who was enjoying his best ever season prior to the fall, faces a wait to find out whether he'll even make it back for the Punchestown Festival as he will return to see his specialist in three-weeks time to asses his arm and ankle injuries.
His current lead stands at five over Paul Townend, who enjoyed a four-timer last weekend, with Ruby Walsh a further two behind and the current champion, Walsh, looks to hold a select but enviable book of rides this weekend.
Of Walsh's three rides at Gowran Park this afternoon and one at Downpatrick tomorrow you couldn't easily overlook any of the quartet and it would be no surprise if Walsh overtook his understudy Townend this weekend.
Trainer Oliver McKiernan has booked Walsh for the ride on GOLDEN BOOT who may not be the most straightforward in the world but does appear to have the ability to win a maiden hurdle at this time of year and in the 2m4f maiden at 2.55 today he faces two other horses that were behind him at Naas last time out and if franking that form Golden Boot looks likely to open his account over hurdles this time around.
Walsh would rarely team up with McKiernan and likewise for Eoin Doyle but he rides a horse called THE WINKLER for Doyle in the 2m4f handicap hurdle and although this is likely to be the biggest price of his four weekend rides, this one does look open to improvement and market moves should certainly be watched closely.
Recent winners Rightdownthemiddle and Malt Gem are probably the two to beat but The Winkler hasn't been disgraced of late and the nicer ground may prove the key to him.
A more common association with Tony Martin is renewed in the Henry Shefflin & Aidan O'Brien Hurdle where he rides Blair Perrone who impressed when winning at Leopardstown over Christmas but has failed to build on that in tougher company.
Blair Perrone finished ahead of the selection DOMESDAY BOOK when the pair were outclassed by the above average Douvan at Punchestown but Henry de Bromhead's charge is selected to come out on top this time around despite being rated two-pounds lower.
Walsh makes a flying visit to Downpatrick tomorrow where he'll team up with his father, Ted, and JP McManus for SALSA SENSATION in the opening maiden hurdle and if the six-year-old winning point-to-pointer can build on his last outing he should be able to take what looks to be a modest contest.
The Ulster National is the feature race on the card in which the Terence O'Brien trained MORE MADNESS is the pick, with Paul Townend onboard and another that caught the eye on tomorrows card was the Conor O'Dwyer trained Disputed who just got touched off here at the last meeting.
2.20 Bonny Kate
2.55 Golden Boot
3.30 The Winkler
4.05 Domesday Book
5.15 Moss Grove
5.45 Casual Approach
2.10 Salsa Sensation
3.45 More Madness
4.20 Corporate Box
4.50 Mister To Mister
5.20 Lip Service