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This is a really competitive handicap hurdle but it may be worth siding with the unexposed Damalisque who gets in here at the bottom of the handicap off just 10s 2lbs. The fact that Mark Walsh takes the ride could be a tip in itself, as he hasn’t ridden below 10st 3lbs in the last year, so it must be significant that he is getting down to such a low weight to take the ride.
Damalisque was a listed hurdle winner in France back in 2017 but found graded company too much when switched to Ireland. He was off the track for over two years before an excellent second behind Mt Leinster in the Amateur Riders Derby at the Curragh, where he had useful horses like The Names Jock and Run For Oscar behind.
He then was a well backed favourite for a decent handicap at Naas over two and a half miles and he was just touched off by Barnaviddaun and they were well clear of the third. That race has worked out with the 6th Uisce Solas bolting up on her next start and the 8th Dandy Mag winning the Leopardstown Pertemps qualifier over Christmas.
Damalisque has gone up 5lbs for that run but he remains unexposed and I’d be surprised if he can’t rate a good deal higher than a mark of 123. Paddy is paying 5 places for those who want to play each way.
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Lord Royal is likely to be a strong favourite here but I think he is worth opposing. He was going well on his chase debut at Thurles when he tipped up two fences from home and that fall may have dented his confidence when he was a well beaten 5th on his next start at Naas when an odds-on shot.
Three miles on testing ground at Navan will take plenty of getting and he may be vulnerable here and The Big Dog is really going to be suited by this stamina test. I would have fancied him in the Thyestes at Gowran on Thursday had he not missed the cut there and I think there is every chance he can run up to his official rating of 135 at the very least.
He was only beaten three lengths by Longhouse Poet over an extended three miles at Punchestown, with Run Wild Fred splitting the pair. Run Wild Fred is strong in the market for the Thyestes and a big run there from him can strengthen the case for The Big Dog.
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Marshalled struck in handicaps at the first time of asking in December 2019 off a mark of 93, beating a horse that was subject of quite a gamble. That race was a hurdle race over two miles but was strongly run, suggesting Marshalled could improve for stepping up in trip.
He finished last season with a close 4th at Punchestown when stepped up to three miles for the first time. Marshalled didn’t show too much in his first two starts in beginners chases but I though that there was some encouragement in his midfield effort at Naas last time in his first handicap over fences off a mark of 102.
He runs off the same mark here but I think the step up in trip will be in his favour. Paddy is offering an extra place and Marshalled looks to be an interesting each way play.
Frank’s tips at Navan on Friday
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