Regardless looks another for Townend

PAUL TOWNEND has grabbed every opportunity afforded him by Willie Mullins, in the absence of the sidelined Ruby Walsh, and can add to his growing reputation by guiding Drive On Regardless to victory in the first division of the Membership 2009 Maiden Hurdle at Fairyhouse this afternoon, where there is a 7.30am inspection due to a threat of frost.

The dual bumper winner from last season, one of his successes came on this track, should now be ready to strike, having shown a certain amount of promise in two outings over flights to date.

He started at Downpatrick early last month, when a big drifter in the market. Drive On Regardless, though finishing a very moderate sixth to Orpheus Valley, ran well for a long way in that two miles and six furlongs plus contest.

Mullins then dropped him down to two miles for his next outing, at Gowran Park. The selection performed much better, on the pace for most of the journey, before fading into seventh behind Oligarch Society. The form received a minor boost when fourth placed Flirthing Around scored at Wexford on Saturday and a fit and fancied Drive On Regardless should now take all the beating, stepping up another two furlongs in trip.

Most interest, on a low-key programme, will centre on the performance of Colm Murphy's Zaarito in the Christmas Party At Fairyhouse Maiden Hurdle.

A brilliant bumper horse, he won three times, prior to taking third to Cousin Vinny at Cheltenham.

It's possible Zaarito could be a trifle vulnerable now, having a first outing of the campaign and a first over jumps.

Nevertheless, he has to be the choice, although his travels in the market will obviously be worth noting.

Should Zaarito fail to come up to scratch then Coast is surely the most likely to take advantage. Absent since October 2006, he made a cracking return when beaten a neck by Sinatra Bar at Cork last month.

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