Spotlight on Irish racing

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  • The spotlight switches to Northern Ireland on Saturday when the showdown between those great chasing rivals Looks Like Trouble and Florida Pearl is back on again.

    After the River Lagan, which runs alongside the Down Royal course, had burst its banks last Saturday, the £100,000 James Nicholson Champion Chase had to be abandoned. When the race was re-opened this week it attracted all seven of the original runners.

    In last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup Looks Like Trouble beat Ireland’s Florida Pearl by five lengths. After the recent flooding the Willie Mullins-trained Florida Pearl has been made 6-5 favourite on what is likely to be his favoured soft ground.

    Florida Pearl won the race last year but will find Looks Like Trouble differentclass to the opposition he beat that day. Looks Like Trouble travels by ferry from Holyhead and his Lambourn trainer Noel Chance says: “Putting back the race upset me more than the horse!

    “This has been the plan for Looks Like Trouble since July and when suddenly it is put back a week it unnerves you. The extra work you give the horse always raises the risk of injury. But he is in good shape.”

    That wonderful Irish campaigner Dorans Pride, who won Sunday’s Leopardstown November Handicap on the flat, is reported in good form by trainer Michael Hourigan for his clash with the big two.

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