PADDOCKS PATENT (FRIDAY)

16:30 Dundalk A festive visit to Ireland is all we have to keep us busy until the Boxing Day bonanza, but luckily the Dundalk card has some juicy little contests for us to get stuck into under the Friday Night lights. The opener could not be any tougher with a number of closes matched horses having good claims. Tracey Collins charge Mai O’higgins could not have been more impressive when a surprise winner of a maiden here last month over seven furlongs. He left behind two runs where he showed absolutely nothing when making just about every yard and certainly wasn’t stopping at the finish. The third horse that day has came out and won since so he is the strong pick to find the necessary improvement and land this tougher contest. The each way price makes him all the more attractive as a betting proposition so he gets the nod. Dangers are a plenty in this field. Carrigeen Prince is a real specialist on this surface and has been in cracking form of late making the frame in his last three starts, winning two of them, so expect him to be bang there at the finish, but the selection has more scope for improvement here. The lightly raced Shannon Soul won at the track over course and distance previously and would be a real contender if showing his best form, but that win was two years ago, it has been off five months now and not one to put full faith in. MAI O’HIGGINS (E/W)

17:00 Dundalk The second race on the card is less competitive with only six runners, but looks a fascinating shootout between a trio of nice two-year-olds. Eagle Spirit looks the pick of the those for trainer Joseph O’Brien. The two-year-old has some nice pieces of form already in the book including a maiden win at Leopardstown in June and a respectable run behind Capri in the Beresford Stakes in September. He holds some fancy entries for next season including the Epsom and Irish Derbies so should take some stopping here in a nursery contest off a mark of just 90 and he gets the confident nod. The main danger will likely come from Ger Lyons Rock in Peace. Winless in eight starts as a two year old, but the form has improved for the move to this surface and made the Frame in his last two starts. A repeat of those last two placed efforts will see him make the frame again here today, but fair chance he will have to settle for the minor placing again. The JJ Murphy trained George Boole looks the only other runner who could trouble the selection. An easy winner in nursery company two weeks ago and has been progressive in last three starts. The win came over 7f and the step up to a mile should suit, but the selection may just be a level above these. EAGLE SPIRIT (WIN)

18:30 Dundalk This 7f contest could not be more competitive and sees a number of track regulars take part, but it is one in-form horse in the field who cannot be ignored here. Mick Halford’s Chestnut Fire is in red-hot form at the minute making the frame in each of his last five outings to the track. Three of those races were at today’s venue and yielded two wins and a narrow defeat close home last time out. He will have to come late in his usual fashion which can always be a risk at the track, but he will get plenty of pace to aim at here and so should make another bold bid to enhance his growing reputation. He gets the nod for another visit to the winner’s enclosure. The main danger will likely come from the B W Duke trained The Mouse Doctor. The horse was caught late on by Red Avenger and so is closely matched with the selection in a line of form through that one’s defeat to the same horse last time out. That was only his second run back from a break so he should be bang ready for this one and he should make the frame with a positive ride, but he is not one for complete faith consistency wise. Shepherd’s Purse was once rated in the 100s and therefore has some nice form in the book, but he has been very inconsistent of late and seems to need things to fall just right. A repeat of its good showing in a tough handicap last time though would see it make the frame. CHESTNUT FIRE (WIN)