• Cork - Thursday

    Cork treble to give local hero first century of winners

    With 97 winners to his name, Paul Townend is on the verge of reaching his first century and the Midleton man might just notch up that career milestone at Cork on Thursday.  

    The championship leader has ridden a winner each day since his success on the Willie Mullins-trained Al Boum Photo in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and can share the first of his Thursday winners with the champion trainer.

    The UCC Horse Racing Society Hurdle has only attracted five runners but Dolciano Dici is the pick as he reverts to the smaller obstacles. Although yet to find his form this season, he did finish ahead of Avenir D’Une Vie when a moderate sixth to Ex Patriot at Gowran Park earlier this month and is certainly an alternative to Dr Mikey at the weights.

    Jennys Grey is taken to defy top-weight in the CIT Raise And Give Handicap Hurdle for Bandon trainer James Dullea. Townend was on board when the seven-year-old was tried over three miles and took third place behind well-fancied Ask Heather at Clonmel last time and the form of that race was certainly boosted when runner-up Young Dev won at Limerick at the weekend. This distance might be more to her liking.

    The Matthew Smith-trained Ronald Pump was in the best of form at the turn of the year and should go well after a break in the UCC Don’t Step On The Crest Handicap Hurdle. A winner from Eight And Bob here in December, he followed up at Fairyhouse on New Year's Day and ran well again at a much higher level at Navan three weeks later when fourth to Agusta Gold and could round off a huge day for Townend with a return to the winners’ enclosure.

    Dullea can complete a double of his own with another top-weight, Dark Outsider, in the CIT Cream Of The Crop Qualified Riders Handicap Hurdle. The veteran was a winner here over fences in early November and ran his best race since then when runner-up to Perfect Leader, again over fences, at Leopardstown at the beginning of the month. Although beaten when last tried over hurdles at Tramore on New Year's Day, his rating here of 94 compares favourably with his current chase mark of 107.

    Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell can land the opening CITSU Fillies Maiden Hurdle with the 117-rated Ocean Voyage while the UCC Goes Racing Maiden Hurdle might go the way of School Boy Hours for Noel Meade and Sean Flanagan. He can’t be too far away if getting his jumping act together.

    The concluding Racing Home For Easter Festival Mares Ladies Flat Race looks to give Lisa O’Neill a big chance of riding her first winner for Joseph O'Brien. The pair team up with Etincelle Lioterie whichran nicely on her debut at Limerick on St Stephen's Day and again when second to Daylight Katie at Gowran Park in the middle of last month.

    Selections: 2.10 Ocean Voyage; 2.45 Dolciano Dici; 3.15 School Boy Hours; 3.50 Jennys Grey (NAP); 4.25 Dark Outsider; 5.00 Ronald Pump; 5.30 Etincelle Lioterie. 

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