Topper Thornton 50kb

Thornton A Topper In Ulster National

We’ll have only just got through the replays of Cheltenham’s four days when the runners will be going down to post for the opening race of the turf season on the flat at the Curragh tomorrow.

With three rides on the card, and following Friday’s announcement that he is to be riding for Michael O’Callaghan this season, Kieren Fallon will give an added interest to the opening day at HQ and this flat season overall.

Lincoln glory
The big race on the opening day at the Curragh is the Irish Lincolnshire and course and distance winner…

Ashraf is the 4/1 favourite and a worthy looking one at that.

Dermot Weld’s Aga Khan-owned son of Cape Cross has ran just three times in his career but the four-year-old won the concluding maiden on this card last year and obviously met with setbacks along the way because he never reached his intended target of the Ballysax Stakes and didn’t reappear until last October when he put in a creditable effort in the Trigo Stakes behind his well fancied stable companion Zannda.

Now his current mark of 97 looks attractive for this €100,000 pot on the opening day of the season and Weld is a man to be well respected for having his string spot on for the opening day.

Dreaming of more
Top weight Onenightidreamed (10/1) won both of his starts last season, including this race but that was off a mark of 89 and he’ll have top weight with a mark of 104 this time so the 15lbs hike may prove to be a key factor on this occasion. That said, he probably has obvious each way claims alongside the pick of the British raiders, Withernsea who is 12/1 for the race.

From Cheltenham to Downpatrick
For the past week it has been championship races of the highest quality that we’ve been focussing on but tomorrow the jump action turns to Ulster National day at Downpatrick and it’s not a bad renewal of their feature race.

Fresh from his exploits in the Cotswolds, Gordon Elliott will send a team across the border in a bid for some more success and the Gold Cup winning connections are represented by Nickname Exit in the Ulster National, while Unic De Bersy, Definite Ruby and Riverside City also run for the trainer, with the latter looking for back to back wins in the race.

This looks like a race that might stay local however and Topper Thornton is the selection for Colin McBratney and David Mullins.

Topper Thornton was last seen too good effect when winning at Down Royal last month over three-miles and five and a half lengths behind him that day is subsequent dual winner Kilford, while the fourth, fifth and sixth placed horses on that occasion all went on to win on their next starts.
Altiepix (somewhat fortunate at Clonmel), Fergiethelegend and Thelobstercatcher all won since that Down Royal outing and there’s no doubt the form is in the book for Topper Thornton to defy his 7lbs hike in the ratings.

Back in October Topper Thornton won a beginners chase when beating Noble Endeavor at odds of 14/1 on good to yielding ground and his previous win prior to that came last summer at Perth on good ground so the improving conditions since his Down Royal win don’t appear as a turn off and if anything could be a bonus so it’ll be a disappointment if he is beaten on Sunday afternoon.

*Prices correct at time of publication.