Troytown day. A card that generates great affection among the Irish racing faithful. The faithful will have to watch from home this year. I’m half tempted to open all the windows and doors in the house. Then I could sit in the freezing cold, with my hat, gloves and scarf on naturally, to recreate the chilly Navan atmosphere. It’s quite possible I’m going mad of course.
It seems likely to be dry all weekend. The ground will probably ride yielding. It will still provide a stiff test. It’s Navan after all. A Plus Tard and Easywork are two of the stars on show. Both should win but are projects for braver punters than me. Here are four that can go well at more rewarding odds.
Gordon Elliot likes to park some tanks on his local lawn for this meeting. His Eskylane will be a popular selection in the graded novice hurdle at 12.30. This stiff track will play to his strengths. He may prove vulnerable to a speedier type all the same.
Annexation looks just the type for the job. This horse improved 20 pounds on the flat this season. He was an impressive winner on his hurdles debut last time out. He was quite keen that day. Perhaps he struggled to adjust to the slower race tempo. His jumping wasn’t bad but could definitely improve. I’m confident that his conscientious trainer will have worked on this. Rachel Blackmore gave the horse a lovely ride that day. Both of them should have learned plenty. Eskylane isn’t the only horse in here who will be stepping up in trip shortly. That should ensure we get a reasonable gallop. If Annexation makes the improvement I envisage, he should go very close.
The Lismullen Hurdle at 13:00 looks a decent race. Both Sire Du Berlais and Ronald Pump are genuine pretenders to the Stayers Hurdle crown. Sire Du Berlais is the ultimate target horse. He has won two races since joining the Elliot yard. Those two races just happen to be the Pertemps at the Cheltenham Festival. Sunday’s race is unlikely to be a priority. Ronald Pump, on the other hand, is sure to be well primed. This horse won first time up last season, and hails from an in form yard. He struggled a bit over fences after that win on seasonal comeback. The obstacles keep getting in his way.
His two efforts over hurdles last season produced runner up efforts in a highly-competitive handicap, and the Stayers Hurdle at the Festival. This seven-year-old should still be improving. I’d imagine he will be campaigned exclusively over timber this term. He will be competitive wherever he goes. He can kick off his campaign in the best possible way here.
Paddy give us two extra places in the Troytown Chase at 13.35. It’s just enough of a temptation to have a stab at this tricky puzzle. I struggled to find well handicapped horses. The Jam Man is well treated. I just worry about his jumping holding up. This is a very different test to beating up lower class horses in Cartmel. He does have Paul Townend doing the steering I suppose. My pin ultimately came down on Plan Of Attack. This horse has done very well since going chasing.
Two wins, and two placed efforts in high class handicaps. Unfortunately he blotted his copybook with a dismal effort in the Kerry National last time out. That run came on soft ground in Listowel. Some horses just don’t handle that unique terrain. Given his previous consistency, it’s reasonable to assume Plan Of Attack is one of them. Off a mark just 4lbs higher than his close third in the Paddy Power Chase, he still looks fairly treated. At a double-figure price he looks a chance worth taking.
Walk Me Home looks a bet in the handicap hurdle that closes the card at 15.50. This mare has plenty of upside from a mark of 106. She is only five, and was unfortunate to bump into a particularly well handicapped sort last time out. They came a fair distance clear of the third. The handicapper has taken a lenient line in raising Walk me Home just three pounds. The way she travelled last time out suggests this slight drop in trip won’t be a problem. I’d be more than hopeful she can snaffle this prize on her way to better things.
*Odds quoted on the widget are correct at time of publishing but all prices are subject to change.
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