With a two-year-old daughter who throws more tantrums than Jose Mourinho, I’m well versed in the adventures of Noddy and Big Ears, but there’s nothing Toytown about Sunday’s Troytown (14:30) at Navan, one of the most competitive handicap chases of the year.
Gordon Elliott is chasing a remarkable five-timer in the race, but those looking for clues from the past will find them fairly hard to find. Put simply, all four winners were just the best horse on the day last year.
Don’t worry though, you’ve only got to work out which one of his 12 horses has the best chance this time around…
According to Timeform ratings, that horse is Out Sam, winner of the Cork National earlier this month. However, he’s been dodgier than a reheated week-old curry in the past when it comes to winning consecutive races, and it may pay instead to side with Tout Est Permis, a recent winner at Galway who looks to have improved for the change of yards/step up in trip. The only downside is that he isn’t trained by Elliott, but Noel Meade knows the time of day and his young stayer is fancied to win again.
Earlier in the card, Whatucallher gets the nod ahead of Put The Kettle On in the mares’ maiden hurdle at 12:30, in what could easily be a battle of the placards for a womens’ rights march (and those opposing it). While Put The Kettle On seemed unsuited by the drop to this trip last time, Whatucallher shaped as if it would be in her favour, having travelled well when second at Cork on her hurdling bow, and she is selected accordingly.
The following Grade 3 Monskfield Novices’ Hurdle (13:00), named after the dual Champion Hurdle winner, has been won by some fine types of late, not least Samcro, who laughed at his rivals when scooting clear in last year’s renewal. It’s unlikely that there’s one of his class in here, and as a result it looks more competitive than the Timeform kitchen when someone brings cakes in.
Preference is for First Approach, who made a strong impression on his hurdling debut at Down Royal, though Dinons and Sometime Soon give Mr Elliott a strong chance of maintaining his grip on the trophy.
Unfortunately, Mengli Khan hasn’t been declared for the beginners’ chase at 14:00, denying us a rematch between the Supreme third and fourth.
But Paloma Blue stands his ground and he’s fancied to make a winning debut over fences in a race won by the best of Willie Mullins in recent years, Al Boum Photo following in the footsteps of Vautour, Douvan and Min when scoring 12 months ago. The Closutton secretary might be out on her ear next week, with Mullins unrepresented this year, but Paloma Blue has long appealed as the type to flourish over the bigger obstacles.
Duca de Thaix has experience on his side, and may be the one to give Henry de Bromhead’s ace the most to do, though Jetz was still going well when departing on his chasing debut last time.