Latch can switch off Automated

Crossgar trainer Colin McBratney with Davyroy, Downpatrick director Peter Magill and Lauren Toal from Toals Bookmakers, sponsors of the Ulster Grand National, with ante-post favourite for the big race Topper Thornton
Neville Ring

GORDON Elliott enjoyed mixed fortunes at Cheltenham during the week but will be hoping to strike on home soil with Automated in the rated novice hurdle at Gowran Park this afternoon. 

Once a useful performer on the level for Clive Brittain, the five-year-old has taken well to his new discipline, building on a debut third here behind Au Quart De Tour and Alamein in January, to see off Stuccodor in heavy ground at Navan.

He takes the next step up the ladder and faces some similarly promising rivals in what is a warm little contest. Notably, Jessica Harrington’s Jett, who broke through at the first attempt over hurdles at Leopardstown last month, and JP McManus’s so impressive Punchestown scorer Lift The Latch.

Between the three of them there’s the makings of a tidy finish. 

Hurry Henry came up short in Grade Two company last time but can’t be ruled out either, now back down in class.

Lift The Latch beat Stuccodor with a deal more authority at Punchestown than did Automated at Naas and looks an above average performer in the making. He can confirm that opinion here.

Alamein was ahead of Automated at this venue, before the form was reversed next time, and he goes to post for the Vintners Maiden Hurdle. Mouse Morris has decided to step him up to two-and-a-half miles and if stamina proves his downfall, Elliott’s Blessed King might be the one to take advantage. 

Henry Howard is worth watching. He qualifies for a handicap mark after this.

Vicangelome has been successfully switching between fences and the smaller obstacles, and he is back over the latter in the two-mile-four-furlong handicap hurdle. 

Robert Tyner’s gelding is 6lb lower here than his chase rating so must be a serious player again. But the likes of Railway Tommy and locally-trained Toushan make this a competitive contest.

Punters can kick off with what appears to be a match in the opening four- and five-year-olds maiden in which Paul Stafford’s Dubai Devils is possibly worthy of marginal preference over ‘Shark’ Hanlon’s Mustadaam. 

Aidan and Joseph O’Brien relished Triumph Hurdle glory with Ivanovich Gorbatov yesterday and try to strike at a considerably lower level in the mares’ beginners chase here with Whisper Rock, formerly trained by Philip Fenton. 

Whisper Rock hasn’t raced since May of 2014 when runner-up behind little King Robin over hurdles. 

She wears a first time tongue tie and Davy Russell rides. Should justify a short price in a very weak-looking race with 102 rated Kara Loca a token place-getter.

Garrai Phaidin attempts to supplement his Thurles victory in the handicap chase but he faces a tough task under 12lb extra in this extended three-miler. Corporate Box and Mount Brandon may be too strong for him.

In the bumper, Grotesque would seem to have a major edge on the back of his Leopardstown half-length second behind Bacardys back over Christmas. Grotesque hasn’t been see out since but Bacardys ran third in Wednesday’s Cheltenham bumper.  


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