What do you need to win the ultra-competitive Ulster National at Downpatrick? For starters, you need a horse who stays well, but, crucially, you also need one who has the ability to jump and travel at the head of affairs as getting a position is paramount around a tight and turning track like Downpatrick, writes Brian Sheerin.
Having a few pounds up your sleeve wouldn’t hurt either and, if there’s one horse in this year’s race who has the perfect profile, it’s the Gordon Elliott-trained Cheb De Kerviniou.
Up 3lb for his narrow defeat in the Leinster National at Naas a fortnight ago, where he gave an exhibition of jumping from the front, Cheb De Kerviniou remains well-enough handicapped off this mark.
Should he get into a similar rhythm at Downpatrick, it will take a good horse to peg him back and it’s no surprise to see him vying for favouritism.
Of Elliott’s five other runners, the Gigginstown pair of Gun Digger and General Principle ought to be taken seriously.
This may be a 3m4½f handicap chase but getting a good position early is vital and that could suit Rocky's Silver, who didn't fire at Punchestown in the Grand National Trial. He is interesting providing he jumps a bit better than he did last time.
Ifyoucatchmenow saw it out best in that valuable contest for the champion trainer Willie Mullins and will be doing her best work at the finish again. However, the better ground and the rise in the weights demands a career-best performance.
Mullins said: "She has gone up 8lb for her narrow win in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown last month when she battled on gamely for victory. Her rise in the ratings plus the fact we are not claiming off her this time will make it tough, but she's an out-and-out stayer who has won over this trip and she should be competitive."
The Gavin Crowmell-trained Jimmil is the potential joker in the pack. He took a big step forward when landing a valuable novice handicap chase at Navan just over a week ago. He was raised 14lb by the handicapper, but, even so, he should have more to offer.
Amaulino, trained by Marshall Watson, won this contest 12 months ago, while 2018 winner Poormans Hill also bids to land the race once more.