Battleford ran a blinder at both Cheltenham & Aintree last season and looked like a stayer last year so the stiff two miles at Navan should suit him. There doesn’t look too many obvious dangers as a lot of the field are newcomers. But with up to 30 runners you just never know what might happen.
He’s schooled well at home, is a previous point-to-point winner and I’m looking forward to a good run.
I’ve won on both Death Duty and Monbeg Notorious on their last two starts and was particularly impressed with Death Duty at Roscommon, while Monbeg Notorious ground out her win at Down Royal, rather than being flashy.
Livelovelaugh wasn’t a bad bumper horse and won a maiden hurdle at Ballinrobe. He probably has to improve on what he’s shown in recent times to trouble Gordon Elliott’s runners.
I won on him at Clonmel when he beat Omega Springs but he got well beaten at Naas since. It’s a competitive race and I wonder if the handicapper might have a grip on him now. If would be great if he got placed.
He’s schooled well at home and just found Altior too good at Cheltenham in the Supreme Novices Hurdle last year. He always attacked his hurdles and was quite quick over them and has transferred that to how he jumps fences. Navan takes plenty of jumping and the 2m 1f trip will suit him too.
Joseph O’Brien’s Edwulf is an interesting contender. He was going to win a Novice Chase last year when he fell and looks the danger.
But Ballycasey, Vautour and Douvan won this in the last three years and Min can add to that roll of honour. He looks my best ride on Sunday.
Gordon Elliott throws 11 darts at the board, so he’s pretty keen to bring up the hat-trick of wins in this contest after Balbriggan and Riverside City’s wins in the last two years.
My mount Sambremont is working well at home, but has yet to win over this distance. He finished eighth in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham and was then ninth at Punchestown in the handicap chase behind Avant Tout.
He’s probably on a handicap mark that he can win off but whether it’s in a competitive race like this only time will tell.
Michael Hourigan and Mark Walsh team up with Hash Brown won at Galway and was value for a lot more than the four and a half lengths he beat Domnea by. His penalty for winning that allows him to sneak in here at the foot of the weights and could be the one we all have to beat in a race where Paddy is paying the first 5 home.
A new arrival to Willie’s yard, I won a maiden hurdle on him years ago for Michael Hourigan. He’ll probably want the ground to be as soft as it’s going to be. My sister Katie rides Baie Des Iles who could be well handicapped in an open looking contest.
She surprised us that she ran so well at Punchestown last year when third to Augusta Kate and then improved to win at Ballinrobe after that. She’s in good form, has a really good pedigree and has a big chance.