dundalk 4th Jan

Thu 3rd Jan 2013, 12:20

Dundalk stage their first fixture of 2013 on Friday night, with eight races for punters to get to grips with.

The pick of the action looks to be the Floodlit Friday Nights At Dundalk Handicap, in which Niall Madden's consistent Shake The Bucket drops back in trip to take on recent course and distance winner Shukhov and the in-form Alghanem.

Asian Wing beat the latter at this venue three weeks ago and is on a hat-trick mission in the Happy New Year To All Our Patrons Handicap (Div II).

Balmont Flyer was second-best to him here the time before and renews rivalry, as does fourth-placed First Friday.

There is less in the way of winning form to go to war with in the first division, but Days Ahead was third to Asian Wing last time so probably sets the standard.

Asian Wing's trainer Takashi Kodama has further claims of success with Hanamizuki, who attempts to confirm the promise of her debut fourth against experienced pair Benbecula and Kharezi, Willie Mullins' course third Legal Lyric, and Henry de Bromhead's useful jumper Absolutlyfantastic in the Crowne Plaza Leading Jockey & Trainer Championship Maiden.

Champion jockey Joseph O'Brien returns to the saddle with a book of rides that begins with Roter Baron in the Crowne Plaza Hotel Race & Stay Handicap (Div I).

Denis Cullen's representative has last-start scorer Samollie and the Mick Halford-trained Alvar to fear most.

Halford's Mea Parvitas was a costly failure here just before Christmas, but she wasn't beaten that far and gets an opportunity to atone in the second instalment.

Curl Cat tries to supplement last month's course and distance success in the Dundalk Stadium Light Up Your Night Handicap, while Ger Lyons' Burn The Boats returns from a lengthy spell on the sidelines in the opening Fundraising Made Easy Claming Maiden at 5.50.

Thurles plan for Leader

Western Leader is being lined up for a trip to Thurles later this month after securing his first victory in the best part of three years at Fairyhouse on New Year's Day.