Navan’s Sunday card features three graded races, kicking off with the For Auction Novice Hurdle (13:05). Gordon Elliott – who saddles Felix Desjy – has enjoyed plenty of success in this Grade 3 of late, winning the past two renewals, but the prize could head back to Closutton with Willie Mullins this time around, courtesy of Quick Grabim.
He put a heavy fall at Leopardstown behind him when getting off the mark in emphatic fashion at Listowel in September, before following up in Grade 3 company at Tipperary a month later. That was another facile success, and with further progress likely, he looks one to follow.
It shouldn’t take Elliott too long to strike back if that does happen, however, courtesy of his multiple Grade 1-winning mare Apple’s Jade, who is due to make her seasonal reappearance in the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle (13:35).
A shock defeat in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham means that her crown has slipped a little, particularly as she followed that up with a below-par effort at Punchestown six weeks later, but she was entitled to need a break by then, and it’s worth noting that she won this race last year before sealing a Grade 1 double the following month. She has a form edge on her main rivals; fellow Gigginstown runner Identity Thief and the loveable veteran Jezki.
Edna Bolger, who lives four doors down from me, is still working her way through the boxes of whiskey that Glenfarcas have shipped to her in error over the years, and there’s every chance that the trophy for the Grade 2 Fortria Chase (14:10) could arrive at her door, too, courtesy of Ballyoisin.
The seven-year-old, trained by Enda, is thriving at present, and followed up an emphatic Grade 3 win at Killarney in May with an equally impressive success at Punchestown a month later. He took advantage of a much lower hurdling mark to extend his winning streak to three at Listowel last month, and with the benefit of race fitness, he can improve again to take this.
We head over to Sandown for our final fancy, which comes in the listed Intermediate Chase (14:20). This race was the platform for Might Bite to make a successful reappearance last term, and features another Grade 1-winning novice this time around in the form of Terrefort. A game winner of the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree on his most recent start in April, he holds leading form claims, but his price is prohibitive, and it may be worth taking him on with Thomas Patrick.
Nominated by Timeform as one of our ‘Fifty to Follow’ this season, he was one of the most improved horses in training last term and, as such, connections are likely to be thinking bigger than this in the long term. He has an abundance of stamina, and may be able to pour it on from the front under Richard Johnson.