It’s a pre-Christmas treat at Navan on Friday with a cracking card getting underway with this 2m 4f rated novice chase. Yukon Lil was impressive among her own sex when winning on her chasing debut at Cork last month and steps-up in trip for Willie Mullins. She ran well over hurdles last season behind Minella Melody and Concertista and clearly has ability in going very close to remaining unbeaten over fences. The Echo Boy is another leading contender here having secured victory over fences at Fairyhouse in easy fashion last month for Dermot McLoughlin.
However, BRAESIDE who gets weight from both rivals here should represent some value from the Gordon Elliott team. The six-year-old wasn’t beaten far behind stable-mate and Florida Pearl winner, Pencilfulloflead in a beginners’ chase at Galway, before finding Asterion Forlonge too good at Punchestown. He’s one of two horses here with an official rating (133) and comes here following a second-place finish in a handicap chase at Fairyhouse last month – he’s a player at a decent price.
KRISQUIN looks a nice each-way bet here for trainer Shane Nolan in this 2m 4f handicap chase with jockey Gearoid Brouder once again in the saddle. The nine-year-old was a somewhat surprise winner at Leopardstown in March off a rating of 79, before returning last month at Naas (off 91) to finish a good fifth after eight-months off the track.
He travelled nicely in front until getting tired turning for home in a race where several fences were omitted late on in the contest. He runs off the same mark (91) today and should improve for that return and looks a good each-way selection. Elsewhere, the consistent Robin Deuz Pois should be right there at the business end with I’ll Be That Lady and Never Off Duty also in the mix.
It’s hard to get away from BOB OLINGER for Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore in this 2m 4f maiden hurdle. The Robcour owned runner was an impressive bumper winner at Gowran Park in March before finding Ferney Hollow too good when only beaten a length on his hurling debut at the same venue last month. That’s the best form on offer here and with natural improvement, the five-year-old should get off the mark unless there’s a hidden gem among the field.
Dunboyne looks very interesting on his rules debut for Gordon Elliott having changed hands following a point-to-point victory for Sean Doyle at Tattersalls in October. The Cullentra House team have won this maiden hurdle three times in the past four-seasons and also saddle Direct Fire for Gigginstown. Michael and Eddie O’Leary also run Inviction with the Joseph O’Brien’s five-year-old returning from a long break having finished fourth to Wilde Receiver here last December.
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The feature Grade 2 novice hurdle looks a cracker with Willie Mullins winning six of the previous nine renewals and saddling Fighter Allen today. The Chris Jones owned runner won his maiden hurdle at Punchestown last month having previously finished behind Jason The Militant and Andy Dufresne at Naas earlier this year. Fakiera looks the best of the Gordon Elliott two having beaten Gabynako at Fairyhouse and stepping up in trip to land the Grade 3 Monksfield last month.
However, it looks like Barry Maloney and Henry de Bromhead have found another nice horse in the shape of HOLYMACAPONY. The Kirkistown point-to-point winner made an impressive winning rules debut when going away to land a maiden hurdle at Punchestown last month. The weight allowance as a four-year-old is an added bonus with the trainer targeting this race straight after that Punchestown victory.
We close the card at Navan with a cracking listed bumper and a match between the unbeaten Gavin Cromwell trained LETSBECLEARABOUTIT and Sir Gerhard for Gordon Elliott. The Cheveley Park owned five-year-old was electric on his rules debut at Down Royal having previously won a Boulta point-to-point for Ellmaire Holden last October. The form of his victory up north has worked out well with the second, The Banger Doyle winning at Punchestown last week.
Despite that good form and currently being ante-post favourite for the Cheltenham bumper next March, I’m sticking with Letsbeclearaboutit with Patrick Mullins once again in the saddle. Mullins found it hard to pull him up after his debut victory at Tipperary, before securing another excellent win at Punchestown last month. The Cromwell team are currently in excellent form and this lad certainly has some class, will represent value against the favourite and in my opinion relish the uphill finish here at Navan.
James’ tips for Navan on Friday
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