Friday: WKD Hurdle (Grade 2)
DOWN ROYAL’S BIG two-day meeting kicks off today and the big race on the card is the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle over two miles, worth €32,500 to the winner. The going is good to soft at present, but with heavy showers forecast, that could change between now and the off time at 2.05pm.
Monksland is top rated in the field with a mark of 145 and is likely to start favourite. Miley Shah from the small stable of JP Kenny has improved all summer and if the ground comes up heavy, his fitness might tell.
Tony Martin’s Edeymi put in two very poor performances at the end of last season following a decent enough run at Cheltenham when second in the Fred Winter to Une Artiste, who was receiving 13lbs from the runner-up. He won’t be inconvenienced if the ground gets worse but I think he is probably battling for place money.
The mare Shadow Eile has been on the go since August last year. She’s won five times in her last seven starts, although she was well beaten on her last start in the Cesarewitch. It could well be that a long campaign has caught up with the mare and she might struggle if the ground becomes heavy.
Monksland has only had three runs over hurdles. Having won his bumper at this meeting last year, he then went on to win his next two hurdle races before finishing third behind Simonsig at Cheltenham. It’s interesting that he’s running here as trainer Noel Meade was thinking of starting him over fences.
The only negative is that he hasn’t run since Cheltenham. Meade’s horses are running well though, and if he is fit enough, he’ll be hard to beat.
It’s difficult to know whether to back at SP or early prices as ground conditions can change, but the trainer’s decision to run here means that he thinks MONKSLAND has got a decent chance. It might be wise to get on early.