McConnell is the man to follow for Dundalk double
Dual purpose trainer John McConnell signed off 2018 with a career best of 29 winners and he may be the man to follow at Dundalk later.
The Meath-based handler began the year on a high with a winner at Musselburgh on New Year's Day and he would appear to have some decent chances on the first Flat card of 2019 in Ireland.
Dundalk's importance in Ireland is very much evident even at this time of year with over 100 runners declared on the eight-race card and McConnell's charges, ITSALONGLONGROAD (7.00 Dundalk) and SPANISH DAWN (8.00), make most appeal.
Itsalonglongroad is a maiden from 13 starts but was last seen when just getting touched off by the Gordon Elliott-trained Markhan at this venue a couple of weeks ago.
Markhan has run well again since, but the selection does meet that rival on better terms now and can hopefully reverse the difference of just a nose from last time.
Spanish Dawn is a course-and-distance winner who got 5lb for winning here last month but is picked to score again despite the penalty.
Wayne Lordan will have to overcome a tricky draw in stall 11 if she is to win two on the bounce, but it was a very likeable performance here last time, when held up and coming with a late run, and that might just work again.
The Herald's summer columnist Declan McDonogh has a few chances tonight as well.
The former champion jockey rides Arbourfield and Markhan, who won't be without support, but it's the Dermot Weld-trained BRIGHT EYED (7.30) who is given the nod in the 10-furlong maiden. Well tried last season on varying ground, Bright Eyed has been freshened up by Weld and fitted with a hood first time.
In this sort of company, connections will be expecting a big run.
Andy Slattery and his nephew Ben Coen teamed up for plenty of success last year and can land the opener with the consistent VIEW THE BAY (5.00) before Coen then takes the ride on double course-and-distance winner AHLAN BIL ZAIN (6.30) for Mick Halford.
5.00 View The Bay
5.30 Above Us Only Sky
6.00 Empire Line
6.30 Ahlan Bil Zain
7.30 Bright Eyed
8.00 Spanish Dawn
8.30 Ragtime Red