Down Royal Saturday Preview - 03/11/18

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12:45 - COEUR SUBLIME

An informative three-year-old hurdle, which has produced some very smart juveniles, starts the card and Coeur Sublime is expected to get dominant trainer Gordon Elliott off to a fast start.

The three-year-old will be making his debut over the obstacles here, but one start on the flat yielded success. The form of that maiden has been franked too. Southern France, who Coeur Sublime beat by a head, has since gone on to finish third in the St. Leger.

The manner of his win suggested the step up in trip will be no problem for the gelding, and he could put his foot in the markets of the top juvenile races with an authoritative success here.

1:20 - BATTS ROCK

Elliott will be looking for a lightning-fast start on the card, and he could duly take the scalps of the first two races courtesy of Batts Rock in the maiden hurdle.

Second on his debut for the Meath handler just over two weeks ago, Batts Rock didn’t get luck in running and was impeded at the most crucial time of the race, but to his credit he stoutly stayed on to take minor honours.

Some jumping errors didn’t help his cause, but the experience will certainly have helped his cause and he looks to be the best bet in this race.

1:55 – SHANNING

An ultra-competitive handicap hurdle is up next, and it could be time for the other dominant force in the Irish training ranks, Willie Mullins, to get on the scoreboard with Shanning.

The five-year-old came back from an extended break to run two marvellous races over the summer, both in competitive handicap hurdles behind Cesarewitch winner Low Sun and a smart horse in Ballyoisin.

With the cobwebs now blown out of his system, he could be a fruitful money-spinner this term, starting in this winnable contest.

2:30 – BALKO DES FLOS

It’s time for the grandest race on the card, the JNwine.com Champion Chase, which Cheltenham Festival winner Balko Des Flos should add another lucrative prize pot to his CV.

Making his belated seasonal appearance after the rain-softened ground scuppered his chances at Gowran Park a month ago, the Henry De Bromhead-trained Ryanair Chase winner looks to be head and shoulders above the rest of the field.

His second in the Christmas Chase last year shows that the three-mile trip will be of no issue, and with the ground officially described as good, all the elements are in his favour. When he’s on his A-game Balko Des Flos is a formidable force, and he should give De Bromhead his second win in the past three years in this race and continue Gigginstown’s stranglehold on the contest.

3:05 – SHATTERED LOVE

One of the strongest Grade Two races in the calendar follows the big race, and another Gigginstown Cheltenham festival winner can get her season off to a winning start. Shattered Love forged up the hill to win the JLT Novices’ Chase in March, but was disappointing in two starts afterwards.

However, the mare is a dual grade one winner over both three miles and two and-a-half miles and is expected to receive five pounds in weight allowance from both Monalee and The Storyteller.

That allowance is crucial, and given Shattered Love’s smart form, punters would be perilous to not back her.

3:40 – BALLYBROWNEY JACK

A staying handicap chase is the penultimate race of the day, and Ballybrowney Jack will be looking for his maiden victory over fences here.

Joseph O’Brien’s charge is seemingly exposed, but has ran some good races in defeat since being gradually stepped up in trip.

The three-mile test here could be in his favour, and with rivals of a similar calibre here, he could sneak his way to victory.

4:10 – BUCK'S BILLIONAIRE

The finale on the card is the bumper, which looks to be a grand opportunity for Buck’s Billionaire to break his maiden tag.

The Willie Mullins-trained gelding has ran with credit on three starts to date, despite showing signs of greenness.

The experience will set him in good stead here, and with his chief rival coming back off a break of 217 days, the race-fitness Buck’s Billionaire has should give him the edge over the field.

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