Brendan Duke: 3 fancies from Navan and 1 from Uttoxeter fill my Sunday Lucky 15

Navan's a nippy old spot in August let alone November, but I'm off anyway.


*Update: Thereisnodoubt has been named a non-runner.

Off to Navan tomorrow. It will be cold of course. It’s a nippy spot in August. There is something of a surprise. Only 19 line up in the opening maiden hurdle. I was under the impression that 30 runners was a legal requirement. The forecast suggests that racegoers should stay dry. Today’s heavy rain will leave us with testing ground. It looks a trappy card to me. Have supplemented my three selections with one from across the water to make for a little Lucky 15.

The Troytown market is dominated by second season chasers. Perfectly reasonable too. They’re more likely to have a few pounds in hand. I will plump for one in the shape of Chris’s Dream in the 2.30pm. Henry De Bromhead’s charge gets in off a mark of 146. That looks workable based on a couple of novice chase wins in Navan last season. His immediate victims in both races went on to win in decent company. The Dream turned sour at the spring festivals. Perhaps he’s just a better horse in wintertime. 

We shouldn’t be too dogmatic after only had 12 career starts mind. Also, he faced formidable opposition in those Aintree and Punchestown races. Life is easier in handicap company. Heavy ground isn’t an issue. He won first time up last season, and it’s reasonable to presume his trainer will have him primed for this valuable prize. 8/1 looks big to my eye.

The handicap hurdle at 3pm sees a number of in-form horses take to the start. This should mean that seasonal debutante Thereisnodoubt goes off at a decent price. This horse was a big improver last season. He’s only six, and it seems reasonable to hope for further progression. He won twice and was travelling notably well when falling three out on his 2018 seasonal bow in Thurles. 

A 13-pound rise for his Gowran win in March may have been what did for him on his final start in Punchestown. It’s also possible that it was one race too many. While we don’t know what would have happened after he fell in Thurles it does give encouragement that the horse can be effective first time up. His promising trainer is a local. He would surely love to have a winner on such a high profile day. I expect this horse to rate a good deal higher than 117 come the end of the season.

Bigbadandbeautiful will be favourite in the bumper (3.30 pm). She should be a backable price though. On collateral form, unbeaten mare The Getaway Star, in receipt of three pounds, isn’t that far off the selection. There are a couple of other credible contenders too. 

Bigbadandbeautiful was mighty impressive in Gowran last time. She travelled really well before finding plenty for pressure and ran out a cosy winner. That’s likely to prove strong form. The ground will be different tomorrow. She has a scratchy old action though so it could easily suit. It will also bring her stamina into play. She rates banker material.

Finally, we head to Uttoxeter for a mares novice hurdle (1.40 pm). Uttoxeter tends to produce a gruelling surface. Peaty soil or something. Anyway, what’s needed is tough horses. Regular readers will know about my grá for the progeny of Jeremy. The main reason being that when the going gets tough, they keep finding. Designer Destiny will hopefully live up to my stereotype. 

She has yet to win. In fact, she’s been second twice. Looks perfectly honest though. She ran really well in a much better race in Newbury on hurdles debut. Her jumping, bar the last, was spot on. She may not even have to improve tomorrow. The likelihood is she will come forward. In which case she’ll be winning. She went off 50/1 in Newbury. Perhaps the market will underestimate her as a result.

Brendan Duke’s Sunday Lucky 15:

Navan 2.30pm: Chris’s Dream @ 8/1
Navan 3.00pm: Thereisnodoubt @ 16/1
Navan 3.30pm: Bigbadandbeautiful @ 13/8
Uttoxeter 1.40pm: Designer Destiny @ 13/8

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