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COKO BEACH can continue his improvement for Gordon Elliott by winning the opening Ten Up Novice Chase on an excellent card at Navan. The six-year-old has been raised 12lbs for his success in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park and faces some familiar rivals over this 3m trip off an improved rating of 150.
He gained plenty of experience before his victory in Kilkenny and previously raced against both Espanito Bello and Forza Milan earlier this season. Forza Milan comes here for James Nash having won at Fairyhouse in early January before finishing fourth to Eklat De Rire at Naas.
Espanito Bello managed to beat Coko Beach by 18 lengths at Naas last December, with Barry Connell’s runner returning to a longer trip having previously disappointed at staying distances. Mr Hendricks is a player following his victory at this venue last month, with The Big Dog coming out of that race and winning the Grand National Trial at Punchestown last weekend. It’s a good race to start the card with Coko Beach looking the most likely winner for Elliott, Gigginstown Stud and jockey Jack Kennedy.
ATLANTIC FAIRY gets preference here over the vastly improving La Chanteuse in what looks an interesting Listed novice hurdle over the 2m 5f trip. The Henry de Bromhead-trained mare made it look easy against weaker opposition when winning at Limerick over Christmas and has the scope to improve further on her fourth start under rules.
She wasn’t disgraced behind Master McShee at Cork in November, with Paddy Corkery’s runner winning a nice handicap at Leopardstown at Christmas. The step-up in trip at Limerick brought out the best in her and this extra furlong won’t be any concern.
The daughter of Jeremy will likely appreciate a further increase in trip down the line and should provide Rachael Blackmore with more success this season. Curious Bride is another lighty raced type for Noel Meade, while Joseph O’Brien is triple handed in this contest.
La Chanteuse was impressive at Down Royal, but I’ve a small concern about the slight increase in distance. Darrens Hope and The Sliding Rock and others who deserve a mention after consistent runs this season.
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The Boyne Hurdle, and Tiger Roll take centre stage in the feature race with the Gigginstown team represented by four of the eight declared runners. This race looks a cracker with the dual Aintree National hero returning having been pulled-up at Cheltenham in November.
The 11-year-old won this race two years ago and was fifth last year and is clearly using this event as a stepping-stone towards a return to the Cross Country at Prestbury Park next month. This feature event will not only give us an update to the well being of Tiger Roll, but will provide us with Cheltenham Festival clues ahead of the Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle.
It’s clearly a positive that Jack Kennedy has decided to ride Fury Road with the seven-year-old only running twice this season. He returned with victory at Punchestown in November before finishing fourth behind Flooring Porter in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown. He wasn’t disgraced that day, with French Dynamite just behind in fifth-spot for Mouse Morris and the Robcour team.
However, the son of Stowaway is a short-price and might be best watched having to concede weight to the entire field. I’m more inclined to side against him and wait for the Stayers Hurdle, with BEACON EDGE looking a more attractive bet for Noel Meade and Sean Flanagan.
He gets 2lbs from Fury Road, is rated 3lbs superior and will clearly benefit from the step-up in trip following defeat to Bachasson at Naas. His prior form and excellent third place effort behind Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle reads very well and he looks much better value to score.
The rearranged Grade 3 novice hurdle is another nice race added to the action at Navan with a small field of six-runners declared. RAGNOR LODBROK can hopefully add to what might be a good day for the Gigginstown team by returning to winning ways here for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy.
The six-year-old is official rated 128 alongside stablemate Frontal Assault, but for me has much better form in the book. The son of Fame And Glory was just behind Ferny Hallow when finishing third to Eric Bloodaxe at Fairyhouse on debut.
He came up against Appreciate It on his next start at Leopardstown before landing his maiden hurdle at Galway last October. He wasn’t disgraced when second twice in Listed and Grade 3 company at this trip on two occasions at Cork, before been outclassed behind Bob Olinger in the Lawlor’s Of Naas last month.
Frontal Assault has been hit and miss despite winning at Thurles, while Brazos and Minella Escape are hoping to improve following maiden hurdles wins last month.
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